While many of us have been guilty enjoying our coffee despite the popular belief that coffee is detrimental to one’s health – studies are now showing that while there are disadvantages to excessive coffee consumption, there are also quite a few health benefits to be enjoyed from moderate consumption!
Coffee might not yet be in the Superfood category, but after being the subject of health-related criticism for so long, it sure is great to know that enjoying a moderate amount of brewed coffee can help to avoid a number of diseases and health issues.
While caffeine alone holds health benefits particular to it, note that the following health benefits have been linked to coffee itself, which contains other nutritional elements besides caffeine. These elements have their own role to play in the beneficial aspects of coffee, and drinking decaffeinated coffee can carry some of the same health benefits as regular coffee. Note however that if you are consuming decaffeinated coffee, the remaining health benefits might be outweighed by any harmful chemicals left over from the decaffeination method. Look for a brand which is decaffeinated via natural methods.
How Drinking Coffee Can Benefit Your Health
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, according to Wikipedia about 2 billion cups are drunk each day by the world! Now, thanks to scientific research, it is proven that not all of these cups are a step towards ill health. In fact, coffee can have some remarkable benefits. Let’s take a look.
Blood Sugar Levels
One of the most noticeable effects of coffee is that of lowering blood sugar levels. This is why when you consume too much coffee in a short space of time one can sometimes get the shakes! While overly low blood sugar levels are unpleasant and not ideal – due to modern diets most of us have blood sugar levels which are above what is healthy. Persistently high blood sugar levels are commonly linked to type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
Studies (1,2,3,4,5) show that regular moderate consumption of coffee can lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a common health problem. Type 2 diabetes is marked by the body’s inability to produce sufficient insulin, resulting in overly high blood sugar levels. Diets high in refined products and sugar which spike blood sugar levels, are apt to increase the risks of developing type 2 diabetes.
A broad study (6) which accessed data from 457,922 individuals came to the statistic that there is an approximate 7% risk reduction associated with each cup of coffee consumed per day.
Coffee has been found in studies (7, 8, 9, 10) to help to reduce the risk of brain diseases in later life, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Degenerative brain diseases are something that many of the elderly dread, so top up on that coffee to possibly lower the chances of them by 65%!
While coffee has been rumored to increase the risks of high blood pressure – recent research (11, 12, 13) has shown that coffee consumption has the ability to decrease the risks of heart disease in women, and can lower the chances of strokes on both sexes by 20%.
Longer Life for Your Liver
Who would have thought? Word on the street has always been that coffee is a toxin, and rather than downing coffee after a glass too many, you should avoid it. But science is one again proving us wrong with studies (14, 15, 16) showing that daily consumption of 4 or more cups of coffee can reduce the risk of cirrhosis by up to 80%.
Although it is unlikely that anyone has ever told you this before, the nutritional values (17) for one cup of coffee shows that on average, each cup contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B2 (11% of the RDA)
- Vitamin B3 (2% of the RDA)
- Vitamin B5 (6% of the RDA)
- Manganese (3% of the RDA)
- Potassium (3% of the RDA)
While the percentage RDA of these nutrients is not sky high, the amounts are significant enough to contribute to your daily intake, especially if you are drinking more than one cup of coffee per day.
Amazingly, coffee is the main source of antioxidants in the Western diet! Whether this is more of an indicator of the enormous amount of antioxidants in coffee, or merely points to how poor the Western eating habits are, is up to debate. Studies (18, 19, 20) have shown however that the average Westerner begets a mere 28% of their antioxidants from fruits and vegetables, and the rest comes from tea and coffee! Nutritional analysis shows that coffee contains the following antioxidants:
- Chlorogenic Acid
- Caffeoylquinic acid
- Caffeoylquinic acid
- Caffeoylquinic acid
Antioxidants play a very important role in many of the body’s functions, and are powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents. While it is not a good idea to replace your fruit and veggie intake with excessive coffee drinking, it is yet another reason to feel good about your love of coffee.
Exercise Aid & Fat Burner
While drinking coffee is not a quick fix for weight loss, it does have a role to play in the burning of fat cells. Consumption of caffeine shortly before your workout can supply you with that extra energy you are looking for to push yourself to the point where your body is burning up those fat cells!
According to research (21, 22, 23) coffee can boost one’s metabolic rate up to 10% and increase the rate at which one burns fat by up to 29%.
This is very enticing, but beware of overdoing it however, because too much caffeine before exercise can cause low blood sugar levels, resulting in tremors, and feelings of weakness. Not what you want for your power workout.
Mood Lifter & Depression Fighter
What better way to make things a little seem less drastic than by making a pot of coffee? Well now it seems that this common practice is backed up by studies (24,25) showing that drinking four or more cups of coffee per day lowers the risk of clinical depression by 20% in women, and suicidal tendencies by a whopping 53%. Dying for a cup of coffee now takes on a whole new meaning!
Coffee: To Drink or Not to Drink
While there have been numerous studies done which conclude that coffee can have the above health benefits, there have also been a large quantity of studies done which conclude that coffee can also have some adverse health reactions. So now you are probably wondering, ‘Well, should I drink it or not!”
At the end of the day, the best litmus test is how you feel when consuming coffee. Usually your body will let you know whether or not it likes something. If you have trouble sleeping, suffer from hypertension, or struggle with digestive issues, then coffee consumption might be a bad idea.
If you think that coffee is causing or aggravating a health issue, but you are not sure, try stopping for a week or two and see what reaction your body has. If you notice no improvement, then you can most likely go back to enjoying your coffee – and its newly found health benefits – with nothing to worry about.
Moderation in all things is probably the trick when it comes to coffee drinking. From all the research and studies, one can conclude that drinking coffee in moderate amounts can bring some great health spin off’s, but at the same time overdoing it can have adverse effects.
Coffee Hack: The European Way
Have you ever watched a European couple sitting down to a strong cup of coffee at a cafe, and both of them ordering a tall glass of water on the side? The Europeans are renowned for their large scale coffee drinking, usually in a strong and potent form. A common practice amongst the continental coffee drinkers is to consume one glass of water along with every coffee which they drink. The culinary principle behind this habit is to cleanse the palate, so that the true flavor of the coffee can be enjoyed. However there are some health significant health benefits to it as well!
As coffee is a diuretic, consuming extra water along with it is a great way to stay hydrated while enjoying your coffee. As coffee is acidifying in the body, additional water also helps to keep the body in an alkaline state. Drinking water with one’s coffee has the added benefit of flushing out toxins.
On a cosmetic level, cleansing your mouth with a sip of water after drinking coffee can also help to minimizing staining of the teeth.
After being disdained for years for being a less-than-healthy beverage, thanks to science coffee has now made a comeback. Its benefits in the areas of warding off liver disease and type 2 diabetes are significant, it can help you get through your workout, not go dilly in old age, step up to the plate when you are not eating enough fruit and veg, and even has a portion of B vitamins and other nutrients!
While these benefits are backed up by science, coffee also continues to have its downsides for some, which include low blood sugar and sleeplessness. If you find that coffee is not a good thing for your, do not be tempted to consume it for its beneficial elements, as these can be sought out in other foods.
However if coffee is one of your guilty pleasures, ditch the bad vibes – and enjoy your caffeine kick without fear. In fact, accompany it with some happy thoughts of a healthy liver, mind, bloodstream and mood!