Coffee often gets a bad rap, based on everything ranging from its caffeine content to the stains it leaves on your teeth. But the truth is that the benefits to this beverage far outweigh many of the perceived negatives associated with it. What’s often overlooked is the fact that coffee is so much more than just caffeine.
In its original form, it’s a whole food that contains a plethora of beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. The key is knowing where to find high-quality coffee and how to avoid losing any of its health benefits by decreasing its nutrient content or adding harmful substances, like artificial ingredients.
Let’s look at the amazing health benefits of coffee in this article.
Table of Contents
Health benefits of coffee (that will also make you happier)
1. Help you burn more calories
In one Spanish study, athletes who drank the equivalent of 12 ounces of coffee before working out burned roughly 15% more calories for as much as three hours after exercising.
Even if you don’t work out, drinking coffee has also been proven to boost your metabolism by 10 to 20%, for those who drink one to two cups per day. As a result, you can burn some calories (and even help you to lose weight if you’re on a diet and do exercises.)
2. Improve your circulation
Drinking a five ounce cup of coffee has been proven to cause a 30% boost in capillary blood flow according to a Japanese study.
This level of increased blood circulation results in better oxygenation of your body’s tissues which has a number of benefits, such as improved performance in physical activities.
3. Have a pain-reducing effect
Research from the University of Illinois determined that two to three cups of coffee can decrease participants’ perceived level of pain, in this case following a workout.
These findings were repeated in a University of Georgia study where participants reported a 48% decrease in muscle soreness, vs. 30% and 25% with naproxen and aspirin, respectively.
4. Improve your endurance
Not only can coffee decrease your perceived level of pain during physical exertion, it can also decrease your perceived level of exertion. By reducing the amount of energy you feel, you’re expending (by more than 5%), and your exercise actually feels easier.
As a result, drinking coffee before working out can improve exercise performance by more than 11%, since you feel like you’re exerting less energy.
5. Help preserve your muscle tissue
When you drink coffee, your brain releases a substance called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which supports the powerhouse of your muscles. Without this essential factor, muscles are more likely to experience atrophy.
Essentially, the caffeine in coffee helps stave off age-related strength loss which can also reduce your risk of injuries.
6. Make you smarter
Caffeine in coffee induces feelings of alertness and increased energy as a result of its interactions with adenosine receptors in the brain.
This causes an improvement in various areas of brain function such as reaction times, vigilance, and general cognitive function.
7. Improve your memory
Another important brain function supported by coffee consumption is enhanced memory.
Drinking two eight-ounce cups of coffee per day has been proven to improve long-term memory.
8. Lower your risk for depression
Coffee has also been linked to a lower rate of depression, especially in women. Those who consume as many as four eight-ounce cups per day have been found to lower their depression risk by as much as 20%.
This lowered risk is due to the fact that coffee also has an impact on the production of brain chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.
9. Reduce your risk of some cancers
So far, coffee has been linked to a lowered risk for both liver and colorectal cancer, the world’s third and fourth most common cancers.
Coffee drinkers appear to be at a 40% lower risk for liver cancer and a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer if they drink four to five cups per day. Links have also been found between coffee drinkers and a lower risk of basal cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
10. Reduce your risk for heart disease
Studies over the years have claimed that consuming caffeine can increase your blood pressure. While this is true, the effect has been determined to be quite small and generally only present in those who don’t drink coffee regularly. There is no study found to support the idea that coffee increases the risk of heart disease.
However, evidence shows that coffee can reduce the risk of heart diseases in some individuals, particularly in women. Coffee drinkers are also at a 20 percent lower risk of stroke.
11. Protect your liver
In addition to preventing cancer of the liver, coffee has also been shown to prevent other common diseases affecting the liver, such as hepatitis and fatty liver disease.
Coffee can protect against cirrhosis of the liver, where the organ is majorly damaged by scar tissue, by as much as an 80% lower risk in people who drink four or more cups each day.
12. Helps to combat gout
Gout is a condition caused by an increase in uric acid in the blood. Men who drank four to five cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower relative risk of gout compared to men who didn’t drink coffee.
Decaf coffee also modestly lowered gout risk
13. Help you obtain numerous nutrients and antioxidants
Coffee has been found to contain a tremendous amount of antioxidants. In fact, many people in Western culture get more antioxidants from coffee than they do from fruits and vegetables combined.
Other important ingredients include riboflavin (11% of the RDA), potassium (3%), magnesium and niacin (2% each). These amounts are increased if you drink more than one cup per day.
14. Lower your risk of type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is an affliction that currently affects around 300 million people across the world. Coffee drinkers have the ability to reduce their risk with every cup of coffee they drink.
Results from various studies seem to indicate around a 7% reduction in risk for every cup consumed, with the heaviest coffee drinkers lowering the risk by as much as 67%.
15. Make you more energetic
This benefit seems pretty obvious. It’s the reason many people turn to their morning cup of coffee.
There’s no doubt coffee can give you that extra boost you need, especially when you’ve had insufficient sleep. This is due to the caffeine which acts as a stimulant that helps you feel more alert and focused. It also gives you a boost in energy and helps you keep going when you’re low on stamina.
You can even boost your productivity if you drink coffee strategically, here’s how: How to Drink Caffeine With Strategy to Boost Your Productivity
16. Lower your risk of Alzheimer’s
Studies at both the University of Miami and the University of South Florida have found a proven link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk in dementia, of which Alzheimer’s is one type.
In fact, those who consumed around three cups each day were also 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Coffee drinkers also have a lower risk, around 32 to 60%, of developing Parkinson’s disease, another top neurodegenerative disease.
17. Make you feel less stressed just by smelling coffee
Researchers at the Seoul National University found that sleep-deprived rats who were exposed to the scent of coffee experienced a decrease in brain proteins that cause stress. It’s worth noting that this reduction in stress was tied specifically to stress resulting from sleep deprivation.
That’s a piece of good news for those who don’t prefer the taste of coffee.
18. Make you feel happier
Being happy is healthy, right? And for those who love coffee, there’s nothing better than that familiar warmth and taste that gets you going each morning, or any time of the day.
19. Help you live longer
While it’s uncertain in exactly what ways drinking coffee lowers your risk of death, there definitely seems to be a correlation.
Research performed by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) determined that people who drink three or more cups each day are at a 10% lower risk of death. Perhaps the most important ramification of this study is that drinking coffee does not seem to adversely affect your health, as earlier research seemed to indicate.
20. Promote sustainability
Recent years have seen the increasing popularity of fair trade coffee which protects small coffee farmers worldwide.
As fair trade organizations work to improve farmers’ rights and earning potential, they also promote social, economic, and environmental sustainability. They encourage shade-grown and organic coffee, part of what makes the beans grown in places like Costa Rica superior to those you might get from larger commercial distributors.
Any potential risks of drinking coffee?
There are a few important factors you should consider if you want to enjoy the benefits of coffee:
- Since many of these benefits are directly linked to the caffeine in coffee, you won’t get the same perks from decaf. You can also decrease the health benefits by adding things like artificial sweeteners and creamers.
- While coffee can certainly help you resist fatigue, drinking it in excess can lead to adrenal exhaustion.
- Coffee is also a diuretic. Drinking too much of it can result in dehydration.
As you can see in the following infographic, coffee can be both an angel and evil. If you’re not drinking too much of it, it can cause negative results:
You can find out more about the side-effects of drinking too much coffee in this article: What Drinking Coffee Does to You
How to get the maximum benefit from coffee?
To get the maximum benefit from your coffee, opt for whole coffee beans and grind them right before you’re ready to brew your coffee. Black coffee is recommended if you want to experience more of the benefits.
You’ll also want to go with organic coffee beans since those that aren’t pesticide-free are often among the most heavily-sprayed crops in existence.
The best way to find beans that are free of chemicals is to look for the 100% Organic seal or visit a local coffee farm and buy them directly from the grower. Your taste buds and your health will thank you.
Featured photo credit: Kaboompics via kaboompics.com
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