Rare are the folks who do not look forward to their morning cup of coffee. Even if you do not drink coffee on a daily basis, you have to admit that there is something cosy, comforting and almost luxurious about drinking a cup of hot coffee. Nothing beats the aroma, and yes, nothing beats the coffee high. Not to mention that the health benefits of coffee are starting to be be discovered by the scientific community, thus giving us even more reason to maintain our coffee addictions.
Coffee is the the most popular beverage in the world bar water. Don’t think that’s possible? Here’s a news flash for you – coffee is the most prized commodity on the market, second only to oil. Billions of people start their day with coffee. Some to get their bowels moving, others to kickstart their sleepy brains in the morning, and definitely all for the unmistakable aroma and flavor that coffee imparts.
Now if you have been keeping abreast of health news and studies, then you know that coffee has received a lot of flack over the last couple of decades. The health benefits of coffee have been hotly debated, and they still are to date. Headlines scream that coffee is terrible for so and so health ailment or will raise your risk for some disease and you rue that you may have to quit coffee. But just a couple of weeks later, another study raves about the health benefits of coffee and you are overjoyed that you do not have to give up coffee after all (not that you were really going to anyway).
It’s no surprise then that most people do not know if coffee is good or bad for them. Not that that minor detail is going to stop anyone from drinking coffee. But considering that coffee is probably a part of your daily routine, that you don’t ever plan on quitting, that there’s a coffee shop around every corner now, and that the world is becoming a more health-conscious place, perhaps it’s time to buckle down and figure out what exactly the health benefits of coffee are, if any.
Does Coffee Have Health Benefits?
Coffee lovers, rejoice! Coffee doesn’t just have health benefits, it’s actually a super-food! You probably don’t even want to know more beyond this, so eager are you to go make yourself a cuppa just to celebrate. But hang around for a few more minutes; some of the health benefits of coffee are truly worth learning about. Plus, you can use the following health benefits of coffee to counter any anti-coffee arguments.
A Natural Stimulant For the Body and Brain
But you know this already. The caffeine in coffee not only wakes you up in the morning but it can actually make you more alert, help you remember things better, and contribute to better productivity. Studies suggest that there may be a link between regular coffee-drinkers and a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and Parkinson’s disease for this very same reason. Coffee accomplishes this amazing feat by stimulating your nervous system. This is why you must be careful to regulate your coffee intake throughout the day to between 2 and 4 cups, which is enough to get you the health benefits of coffee without harming you. Too much coffee will over-stimulate the nervous system and can lead to irritability, anxiety, and restlessness.
Coffee Acts As a Diuretic and Laxative
There’s a reason so many people need their coffee in the morning. Coffee stimulates the bowels, plus it flushes out the kidneys thus being responsible for frequent bathroom breaks. If you are constipated, coffee is a great way to get things moving.
Get Rid of Migraines With a Cuppa
You have probably experienced some of the health benefits of coffee for yourself. Here’s another one that you most likely already know about. If you have a headache or a migraine, a cup of coffee can make it disappear in just a few minutes. This is because coffee has analgesic properties in its caffeine content. In fact, take a look at the ingredients on some of the painkillers that you regularly pop and you will discover that caffeine is listed on at least a couple of them.
Health Benefits of Coffee Reduce the Risk of Major Diseases
Coffee has been linked negatively to the higher incidence of many prevalent health ailments. But after years of research, the prior claims have been proven false. The caffeine and antioxidants in coffee, in addition to hundreds of other compounds that change our body chemistry, actually have a range of health benefits which have the potential to prevent the onset of several major diseases.
- The high levels of antioxidants in coffee can cut your risk of certain forms of cancer be almost half. According to studies so far, the cancers most likely to be prevented by coffee include prostate cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer and colon cancer. The flavonoids and phytoestrogens in coffee can prevent tumors from growing and spreading. The health benefits of coffee are constantly being investigated for their effectiveness against other cancers as well.
- Cancer is not the only disease that is affected so dramatically by the health benefits of coffee. You can even cut your risk of developing gallstones by 50% simply by sipping on a few cups of coffee a day because of the xanthine content in coffee.
- The health benefits of coffee extend to protecting your heart as well. Research shows that you can cut your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by at least 25% by drinking coffee on a daily basis. Coffee has shown amazing health benefits in reducing the risk of arrhythmia and stoke.
- Diabetics or those at high risk of developing diabetes can also benefit from a couple of cups of java a day. Coffee contains chlorogoenic acid which can regulate blood sugar levels as well as increase insulin sensitivity. Both these effects contribute to lowering your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
- The chlorogenic acid in coffee shows incredible health benefits for a damaged liver as well. So drinking coffee can prevent the onset of liver diseases like cirrhosis. Just 3 to 4 cups a day can reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis by 80%! Now that’s quite a feat for the little bean. But you cannot expect to reduce your risk if you continue to drink excessive amounts of alcohol – the cause of cirrhosis. Coffee can do wonders if you begin to take care of your body and health, but you cannot expect it to work miracles when you insist on abusing alcohol.
- As we have already seen earlier, the health benefits of coffee for the brain can reduce your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. So stick to your daily coffee if you want to keep your wits about you when you are older.
- Coffee can help reduce the risk of as well as cure gout since it counteracts the uric acid build-up in the blood, which is what causes gout.
An Anti-aging Elixir
Antioxidants and caffeine, both of which are present in coffee in very high amounts, prevent cell damage and may be able to reverse the effects of aging. A cup of coffee a day can be a part of your beauty regimen as it prevents premature aging of cells, allows your body to repair damaged cells, and may help your skin to appear younger for longer.
Brings Relief to Asthmatics
A hot cup of coffee opens up the airways and allows for easier breathing. Asthma patients who drink coffee have 30% fewer symptoms than their non-coffee-drinking counterparts. You can thank the caffeine for the health benefits of coffee for asthma sufferers. So the next time you are having an asthma attack and the medication and inhalers do not help, down a cup of hot coffee so you can breathe easy again.
Health Benefits of Coffee for Weight Loss
Ah, the ever-popular debate. It seems that most foods nowadays are tested for their effects in weight management. Coffee has been too, and the results showed that coffee can improve your metabolism, thus allowing you to burn more calories. But this is not going to happen of you have an unhealthy diet. The health benefits of coffee for weight loss will only be apparent if you have an overall balanced lifestyle.
There is another way in which coffee may help with weight loss. If you are following an exercise routine, having a cup of coffee before your workout will make your body and mind alert and you are thus more likely to have a more focused workout than usual, working harder than you normally would for longer periods of time, in turn burning more calories to help you lose weight.
Coffee for Oral Health
Research conducted in 2002 concluded that coffee’s anti-bacterial properties can hep to prevent tooth decay and cavities by neutralizing the microorganisms that cause the damage. Coffee also has anti-adhesive properties, which means that when you drink coffee destructive microorganisms find it harder to stick to your teeth.
Contraindications of Coffee
OK, so the health benefits of coffee are amazing and you are breathing a sigh of relief that you do not have to give it up. But wait a minute. There have been other studies done that have talked about how bad coffee is for you. Those studies are conducted by scientists and food researchers of the same caliber as those offering evidence of the health benefits of coffee. And you have to be fair for the sake of you health to look at both sides of the argument.
- Anything in excess is going to have adverse results. If you are drinking seven to ten cups of coffee a day, you are more likely to suffer from side effects than see any health benefits of coffee. Stick to two maybe three cups a day and you should be fine.
- Coffee can cause sleeplessness. This is a rather obvious one. The caffeine boost is bound to keep you awake if you have coffee after 4 pm (or about 7 hours before bed time). Try a decaf version if you cannot do without coffee toward the end of the day.
- “Coffee makes you fat” “Cut down on coffee to lose weight” How many times have you heard or read this? If nothing else can make you quit coffee, this one definitely will. But coffee in itself does not have many calories – only 5 a cup. What does have calories though is the sugar, milk and cream that you add to coffee to make it more palatable. The coffee bars in your neighborhood are notorious for their high-calories coffee delights. But these should be once-in-awhile treats rather than a daily affair or you will indeed pile on the pounds just like the research suggests. Stick to black – it’s the purest flavor and the mark of a true coffee lover.
- Lots of research has proven that coffee can aggravate heartburn because it is strong enough to trigger the secretion of the acids in your stomach. Too much coffee, especially black coffee, can indeed lead to heartburn, especially if you already suffer from ulcers, indigestion or other stomach problems.
- Since coffee is a diuretic, it may cause dehydration if you do not replenish your body with fluids after multiple bathroom trips.
- If you drink too much coffee – more than 5 cups a day – it can interfere with the optimal functioning of your body. Research reveals that caffeine does not allow your bones to absorb the nutrients from food, thus making them weaker and raising your risk for osteoporosis. But this may be countered by adding more milk to your coffee.
- Although no strong evidence exists, coffee is thought to increase the risk of miscarriage. This is why pregnant women are advised to reduce their coffee intake to just one cup a day.
- While coffee is good for your teeth, heavy coffee drinkers risk staining their teeth.
- Finally, coffee is addictive. There’s no doubt about this. If you try to quit you will experience withdrawal symptoms as if you were weaning yourself off a powerful drug. Those who have been drinking coffee for several years find that they need even more coffee to feel the buzz. This can lead to a higher coffee intake which will lead to all or some of the above side effects of coffee.
To drink or not to drink? – that is the question. While the side effects of coffee do indeed make you take pause, the health benefits of coffee are too numerous and encouraging to be ignored. However, moderation has never resulted in adversity. So go enjoy your cup of coffee without guilt or worry, but make sure you control your intake of this seductive brew.