Mm…coffee. It’s truly one of my favorite things (brown paper packages tied up with string also make the list). I don’t feel like my day can properly begin without a nice cup (or three) first thing in the morning. Sometimes, another cup in the afternoon is just the thing.
The rich, dark beverage has been around for hundreds of years but it gained popularity in England during the 17th century. Experts estimate more than 400 billion cups are consumed annually so it’s clearly one of the globe’s favorite beverages.
Coffee is wonderful…but is it good for you?
Aside from the smell, taste, and joy (yes, I know it’s psychological) my daily java brings me, there are some awesome benefits of coffee that you need to know. While I don’t need excuses to drink what my friends refer to as my “elixir of life,” having a few on hand doesn’t hurt.
1. There’s good stuff in the good stuff. Coffee is bursting with phytochemicals and powerful antioxidants such as several B vitamins, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. According to the American Chemical Society, our body absorbs the good stuff found in coffee extremely effectively.
“Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close,” explained study lead Joe Vinson, Ph.D with the University of Scranton.
Scientists have repeatedly pointed out that the caffeine content isn’t where coffee benefits originate. Most studies find similar antioxidant results in caffeinated and decaffeinated varieties. If you’re sensitive to too much caffeine, consider half-caf or decaf!
2. Living longer in general. The medical journal Circulation published the results of a 30-year study by Harvard School of Public Health that found regular coffee drinkers (those of us who drink 5 cups or less daily) have a 15% lower mortality rate.
Of more than 200,000 participants, those who regularly imbibed nectar of the bean had lower risks of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, and major depression that resulted in suicide.
A 30-year study by Harvard found regular coffee drinkers have a 15% lower mortality rate #DrinkUpClick To Tweet
3. Jump start your brain naturally. Coffee is a mental energy booster you don’t need to feel guilty about consuming. The chemical reactions caused by coffee (and in this one, the caffeine seems to be the primary active compound) helps you to focus.
“When you’re sleep-deprived and you take caffeine, pretty much anything you measure will improve: reaction time, vigilance, attention, logical reasoning – most of the complex functions you associate with intelligence,” explained Harris Lieberman, researcher and psychologist with the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine. He went on to state that the majority of American adults are sleep-deprived most of the time.
More importantly, researchers with the University of South Florida found that regular coffee drinkers held off neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) longer than their non-coffee drinking peers. Some studies find as much as a 60% lower risk of these diseases in regular coffee drinkers.
4. A real mood lifter. This one, I know personally. The natural benefits of coffee include being a mild antidepressant that boosts your internal production of necessary “feel good” hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health found that 2-4 cups per day reduces the risk of suicide by more than 50% in both genders while the National Institutes of Health determined that antioxidants in coffee makes drinkers 20% less likely to experience depression.
Even the smell of coffee lifts the mood and makes you feel happier (I relate).
5. Protect your liver from damage. If you’re a heavy alcohol drinker, coffee might help slow down long-term damage to your liver. One study published in Archives of Internal Medicine analyzed data from more than 125,000 participants who answered questions regarding alcohol, coffee, and tea consumption daily.
For those heavy drinkers who included daily coffee consumption, they experienced a 22% decreased risk of liver damage.
“Consuming coffee seems to have some protective benefits against alcoholic cirrhosis, and the more coffee a person consumes the less risk they seem to have of being hospitalized or dying of alcoholic cirrhosis,” said Arthur L. Klasky, MD with Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program.
Coffee benefits have also proven to prevent or slow the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) according to a study released by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School.
6. Caffeine is a proven metabolism booster. There’s a reason most “diet” supplements contain caffeine. It’s a proven fat-burner! Coffee raises your body’s internal temperature and boosts your metabolic rate by as much as 11% just by drinking it.
The caffeine in coffee communicates directly with your brain. It stimulates the breakdown of fat, the burning of fat for immediate fuel, and boosts your level of adrenaline. Experts agree that drinking a cup of coffee an hour before your workout is a great way to get more out of your physical regimen.
Coffee boosts your metabolic rate by as much as 11% just by drinking it. #FatBurnerClick To Tweet
The Bottom Line
The benefits of coffee include lowering your overall risk of diabetes, liver and colorectal cancer, stroke, and heart attack. If you already drink coffee (and I certainly do), you should do so without guilt or thinking it’s tearing down your health.
Now, it should be noted that coffee cannot be the only thing you drink. You still need your daily consumption of water (half ounce for every pound of bodyweight) without fail. You still have to eat right and get plenty of sleep. Get some exercise into your daily routine even if it’s mild.
Coffee is not a “miracle” cure. There’s no such thing. It takes a concerted effort in all areas of your life (mentally, emotionally, and physically) to maintain true health and happiness.
Still, coffee absolutely contributes to my joy…and that afternoon cup is calling.