5 Health Benefits of Coffee
Photo Credit: Coffee Geek
Of course, coffee is a fantastic jolt to start the day and a great pick-me-up in the afternoon, but have you ever wondered if that cup of joe was doing more for you than a quick burst of energy? What are the consequences of drinking coffee? Isn’t coffee made from burnt beans? That can’t be good for you, right?
Actually, there is extensive research regarding coffee’s potential health benefits, and coffee is great for you. Keep in mind, dietary science is tricky and subject to change, so not all of these benefits are 100% proven; however, the overwhelming consensus is that black coffee is one of the healthiest beverages you can consume habitually.
1. Caffeine is Good for Your Brain
That freshman in high school who carries a thermos of coffee to school each morning with an air of cognitive superiority—there’s science to back him up. Research in the journal Psychopharmacology shows that moderate amounts of caffeine can make you smarter, or at least make you slightly better at performing specific cognitive tasks. Participants in the study made slight improvements in tests involving reaction times, spatial awareness, and memory.
Other studies show that higher caffeine intake is correlated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. One study shows that drinking three to five cups of coffee is associated with better cognitive health in old age. The exact mechanism for this reduced risk is unknown, but we’ll take any excuse for the afternoon cup we can get.
Lastly and most obviously, coffee can improve your mood. Multiple studies indicate that coffee can improve alertness and overall contentment, and this benefit is effective whether taken as one dose or throughout the day. Some research even indicates that coffee can help alleviate depression.
2. Coffee is Good for Your Heart
While many health benefits of coffee can be gained with a decaf blend, this benefit depends upon the caffeine specifically. Research published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Heart Failure in February 2021 indicates that having at least one cup of coffee daily can reduce your risk for heart failure. The same benefits did not extend to decaffeinated coffee.
That said, don’t go java crazy just yet. High caffeine intake can still result in heart palpitations and tachycardia, but as long as you’re avoiding energy drinks and too many espresso shots, it’s unlikely that you’ll see any problems from caffeine.
3. Coffee Can Lower Your Risk for Diabetes
A Harvard study published in 2014 shows that coffee may help reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. People who drank multiple cups of coffee per day showed an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than people who didn’t.
As of now, it’s unclear which compounds in coffee are responsible for this benefit, but the study seems to show a significant reduction in risk for habitual coffee drinkers. If you’re already diabetic or pre-diabetic, be careful what kind of coffee you drink. A single 16-oz. Starbucks Frappuccino can contain 370 calories, almost all from sugar and fat. Sugary coffee drinks can be great as a treat, but making them a daily habit might not be best for your health.
4. Coffee Can Help You Lose Weight
It’s not a given that lower weight means better health; however, obesity is certainly correlated to many negative health outcomes. Caffeine helps by slightly boosting your metabolic rate, allowing your body to burn more calories at rest.
Keep in mind, the boost is slight, so you will still need to exercise regularly and reduce your caloric intake slightly, but research shows that increasing your caffeine intake can significantly increase your fat loss. As with the tip above, keep in mind that sugar and cream can add tons of empty calories to your diet, so drink it black to see the most benefit with your weight loss goal.
5. Coffee Can Help You Get Up and Exercise
After a long day at work, doing daily chores, and running errands, finding the energy to hit the gym can be difficult. Many athletes today use pre-workouts, either powdered or pre-mixed beverages designed to boost your energy and improve performance during training. These blends can be expensive, but what if there was a cheaper, healthier alternative? The primary active ingredient in many pre-workouts is actually just caffeine, which is abundant in regular black coffee.
While energy drinks can be loaded with unnecessary sugar, black coffee is a tasty, low-calorie alternative. Drinking a cup about 20 minutes before hitting the gym will stimulate your system and help get you active. Why is this important? Regular exercise is one of the most significant predictors of long-term health, and it benefits your whole body. Exercise improves your cardiovascular and pulmonary health, keeps your bones and muscles healthy, and even improves your mental well-being. If coffee is what it takes to get you moving, don’t hesitate to brew a cup.
Coffee has an incredible number of health benefits beyond the ones listed here, for both your physical and mental health. Though we love to follow trends and try new health products, it is difficult to find a drink as beneficial for our overall wellness as black coffee. Maybe that’s why the drink has been enjoyed across the world for centuries.
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