7 Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee
Despite the fact that it’s the most commonly consumed beverage on the planet, coffee continues to be the subject of much debate, especially among health-conscious people who question whether or not it’s healthy at all. Recent studies, however, are confirming what many coffee lovers have known all along—that coffee can actually provide significant health benefits. In this article, we’ll look at some of the top reasons why coffee is beneficial for your health and may even help you live longer. So without wasting anymore time, let’s check on the health benefits of coffee drinking.
1) Lowers Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Drinking coffee can decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing diabetes than non-coffee drinkers. The results also suggested that consuming two to three cups per day may significantly reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes by about 50 percent. The more caffeinated drinks you drink, such as espresso and caffe latte, the greater your risk reduction. For every extra cup consumed, your risk decreases further—so if you switch from decaf to regular, for example, you may still get a disease-fighting benefit. Why does caffeine help? Some research shows that caffeine blocks receptors in fat cells that make insulin less effective at lowering blood sugar levels after eating.
2) Improves Athletic Performance
Research suggests that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day can improve athletic performance by making you more alert and reducing mental fatigue. For those with an afternoon workout, a cup before hitting the gym could make all the difference in helping you push yourself harder and longer. However, if you’re exercising in order to lose weight, try cutting out caffeine late in the day: Researchers have found that having your last cup no later than 8 p.m. will help you sleep better at night.
3) Increases Cognitive Function
The anti-oxidants in coffee can help improve your mental clarity, and some studies have even found a link between coffee consumption and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s. In one study, older adults who drank three to five cups per day were 64 percent less likely to develop mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which could progress into dementia. Moderate intake may also protect against Parkinson’s disease by slowing cognitive decline associated with aging. And for those looking to start their day off right, drinking two to four cups before exercising can increase focus during exercise as well as muscle strength following an intense workout.
4) Reduces Depression Risks
A Harvard study found that people who drank 4 cups of coffee a day were 20% less likely to develop depression than those who didn’t. This could be due to caffeine’s effect on dopamine levels, which can increase feelings of pleasure and euphoria. But researchers believe there may be more to it than that. Caffeine is known to temporarily boost serotonin levels, which can make you feel calmer—and happier. It also boosts epinephrine, which releases fat from your cells and sends it into your bloodstream for use as energy. So get yourself a cup o’ joe!
5) May Prevent Liver Disease
People who are not heavy coffee drinkers may be able to improve their liver health by drinking at least three cups of coffee per day, a new study suggests. Liver disease is becoming increasingly common in Western countries, especially among people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when people accumulate fat in their livers without drinking alcohol. The condition can progress to cirrhosis, which causes scarring that restricts blood flow through liver tissue. There are several causes for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, including excess calorie consumption and diabetes. Although doctors have long suspected that coffee plays a role in protecting against liver damage, studies on its effect have yielded conflicting results.
6) Has Anti-Cancer Properties
While coffee is not a magic bullet for cancer, research does suggest that compounds in coffee may provide a protective effect against certain cancers, including liver and colon cancer. Studies have also shown that people who drink several cups of coffee daily are up to 30 percent less likely to develop basal cell carcinoma, which is common skin cancer. The antioxidants found in coffee may help reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes; an 11-year study published in Annals of Internal Medicine followed more than 200,000 women and found those who drank two to three cups per day were up to 25 percent less likely to develop diabetes.
7) Helps You Burn Fat Faster
Caffeine is a powerful performance-enhancing drug, and one recent study found that it can boost exercise performance by as much as 15%. In fact, a cup of coffee about an hour before your workout can lead to more intense workouts and faster fat loss. One reason for these results may be that caffeine blocks an enzyme called phosphodiesterase, which breaks down adenosine—an organic compound that promotes relaxation. Adenosine causes blood vessels to dilate (which boosts blood flow) and plays a role in muscle contractions during exercise. Caffeine’s inhibitory effect on phosphodiesterase enables muscles to work harder before becoming fatigued. The end result? You can lift heavier weights for longer periods of time.
The Bottom Line
There’s a strong case to be made for coffee as a beverage. It’s cheap, it’s convenient, and many people like its taste (to each their own). For those who don’t drink coffee but want to try it for weight loss or health reasons, there are ways to go about doing so without having it end up being another cleanse or fad diet. Instead of chugging down your coffee with loads of sugar and fat in one sitting, pair your cup with something that has high protein and fiber. Also remember that in order to enjoy all these supposed benefits from coffee (and avoid long-term risks), you must not add sugar or creamers.
Adding cream and sugar to your coffee adds calories to it, which can increase your body’s insulin response and therefore make you more prone to storing fat. If you really can’t kick your habit of adding these ingredients, at least drink black coffee or espresso shots so that you don’t drink too much. Keep in mind that any benefits from drinking coffee may only come from a few cups each day – excess amounts have also been associated with various health risks. You should drink no more than three or four cups per day. To find out if coffee will help you lose weight or get healthier, try drinking a couple cups daily over a period of time (no longer than one month) and take note if there are any changes in your body composition or energy levels.