When it comes to health, we can say that coffee suffers somewhat of a bad reputation. Luckily, this little drink is receiving increasingly more favourable press, and for good reason. So brew yourself a cup of joe and read on to discover several solid health perks you could experience by consuming this drink — as well as a few cautions!
1. Keeps You Sharp
Did you know that coffee is one of the most commonly used psychoactive substances in the world? It’s arousing effects are quite similar to those of other stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines. So needless to say; this little beverage can pack quite a punch! But unlike its (less legal) counterparts, its advantage is that it also can, at least momentarily, improve pretty much every aspect of your brain function, starting with memory and vigilance all the way through reaction times and general cognitive function. So sip on some prior to a big exam or an important work meeting and reap the benefits!
2. Helps Burn Fat
Caffeine, the stimulant found in coffee, was shown to potentially help you ditch the blurb to the curb. This is, in part, due to it’s effect on your basal metabolic rate. Research has found that consumption of 4 – 8mg of caffeine per kg body weight (the equivalent of 3 – 8 cups of coffee) can boost metabolic rate by 12% – 16% respectively, which means it can help you burn more energy throughout the day. Over a year, this alone could lead to a significant amount of fat loss (if you don’t load up each cup with sugar and creamer that is)! Another positive; this study also found that drinking coffee can help directly increase your fat burning rate.
3. Lowers Risk Of Diabetes
Research has found an inverse correlation between drinking coffee and risk of type II diabetes. In plainer words, every refill of your cup of morning joe can help you reduce your risk of getting this disease by 5 – 10%. Decaf drinkers, rejoice. Individuals drinking 3 – 4 cups of decaffeinated coffee per day were also observed to be 33% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers or lighter drinkers.
Coffee’s magnesium and chromium content may be to thank for this effect, as they can help the body utilize the blood sugar controlling hormone, insulin. Additionally, the antioxidants found in coffee may also help prevent tissue damage caused by free-radicals. However, the exact mechanisms making coffee beneficial in this aspect remain, for the moment, unknown.
4. Protects Your Brain
Coffee has also been linked to a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A study looking at the coffee consumption habits of 1400 Swedish and Finnish people over 20 years reported that those drinking 3 – 5 cups of coffee per day were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. One thing to keep in mind with these type of observational studies is that they can’t necessarily show a causal link – it’s possible, for example, that coffee drinkers also pay more attention to healthy eating. But all in all, it sure is a good sign!
This effect is similar when it comes to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, and a recent study has even shown that caffeine can help decrease the movement symptoms for people who already have developed this disease.
5. Is Kind To Your Liver
Coffee also appears to help your liver stay healthy by slowing down the progression of liver diseases, improving responses to treatment in people with hepatitis C and lowering the risk of death in people with cirrhosis. This effect appears to be so strong that daily coffee consumption was encouraged by researchers in people with chronic liver disease.
6. Makes You Happy
Those who enjoy a morning brew have long been attuned to this – coffee can help improve your mood! And now, research can also to support this. It’s been shown that individuals who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day are 53% less likely to commit suicide.
Similarly, a study done by the National Institute of Health found that those who drink 4 or more cups of coffee per day are 10% less likely to be depressed than non-drinkers. Interestingly, women might be at an advantage, as a separate study found that consuming this same daily quantity reduces their risk of depression by 20%!
The proposed reason is simple; coffee help boost the production of feel-good hormones such as serotonin and dopamine, thus acting as a mild antidepressant. Doesn’t that put a smile on your face?
7. Keeps Cancer At Bay
What’s more, it seems that an increase in consumption of one cup of coffee per day can help reduce the risk of other cancers (such as bladder, breast, buccal, pharyngeal, endometrial, esophagela, hepatocellular, leukemic, pancreatic and prostate) by 3%.
8. Protects Your Skin
It appears that coffee can also reduce your chances of developing skin cancer. A large prospective study that followed over 445 000 men and women over 10 years found that those who drank ≥ 4 cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of malignant melanoma.
This is likely due to the many active compounds found in coffee, including polyphenols, diterpenes, trigonelline and caffeine, shown to protect against oxidative stress, inflammation and UVB-induced skin damage. Now, does this mean you can skip the sunscreen altogether? Most likely not. But sipping on an iced latte on a sunny terrace definitely won’t hurt!
9. Keeps Your Heart Healthy
In the past, people at risk of heart disease were often steered away from coffee and told that this beverage could increase their blood pressure. Although this is, to some extent, true, more recent research has shown this effect to be small (only 3 – 4mm/Hg increase) and to usually go away if you drink coffee regularly.
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