Wondering if you should be drinking more coffee? Or maybe less of it? What are the health benefits of drinking coffee?
Coffee remains one of the world’s favorite drinks. The good news is it does more than keep you alert in the morning.
Coffee also has brain-enhancing and antioxidant effects. But that’s not all.
In this article, we’ll discuss the top health benefits of drinking coffee according to recent research.
Let’s dive in.
1. Boosts memory
Researchers at the Medical University Innsbruck in Austria examined coffee’s impact on memory.
In the study, some participants consumed 100mg of caffeine. This is about the same amount in one cup of the beverage. The other participants got a placebo.
Both groups performed similar memory tasks and brain activity was measured using functional MRI.
Those who consumed caffeine did better. They had higher brain activity than the control group.
The researchers found that coffee helped boost the short-term memory of the participants. Caffeine acts on the memory and concentration centers in the brain.
This causes increased activity and improvement in short-term memory. The duration of effects may vary by person.
2. Rich in antioxidants
For a long time, cocoa and green tea have stood out as the richest sources of antioxidants.
But recently, scientists identified another superstar, which is coffee.
Turns out unroasted coffee beans contain more than 1000 different types of antioxidants. The process of roasting may even add hundreds more.
Here’s the thing: Antioxidants are fundamental in fighting inflammation.
And inflammation is an underlying factor in several chronic diseases. For example cancer and arthritis.
Natural free radicals build up within the body during various metabolic processes. These substances are very reactive and can cause cell damage and lead to diseases.
Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals. This helps to keep the cell and the body in general healthy.
Coffee also helps with cardiovascular health. This is because of its exclusive antioxidant, chlorogenic acid.
3. Reduces risk for cardiovascular disease
Regular intake of moderate amounts of coffee (2- 4 cups per day) lowers the risk of developing heart disease.
A study by researchers in the Netherlands compared the impact of drinking coffee. They wanted to find differences between light, moderate, or heavy drinkers.
The results show that caffeine improves heart and blood vessel health. This, in turn, prevents inflammation that damages the atrial walls and causes atherosclerosis.
4. Prevents cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s
Coffee does more than boosting memory. Studies show that drinking coffee regularly can help prevent some cognitive disorders. For example Alzheimer’s Disease.
Drinking about 3 to 5 cups per day may reduce the risk of developing different types of dementia by up to 65 percent.
Similar studies with other beverages did not show any effect on cognitive functions.
So why coffee?
Different theories explain the effect of coffee in preventing cognitive decline.
The first one is that coffee reduces the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. This is central in the genesis and progression of the disease.
The second theory revolves around coffee’s ability to prevent type II diabetes. Diabetes is a significant risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia.
5. Has anti-cancer properties
A growing body of evidence shows that coffee is vital in preventing different types of cancer.
Take the research in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute for example. Researchers found that coffee helps reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
But it’s not only men. Women who drink more than 3 cups per day lowers the chances of developing endometrial malignancy by 25 percent.
Tumors such as rectal, breast, liver, and colon are also reduced with regular coffee intake.
The anti-cancer property of coffee is in part due to its antioxidant, polyphenols. Polyphenols reduce inflammation which is primary in the development of some cancers.
6. Helps prevent diabetes type II
The body of evidence supporting the impact of coffee in reducing the risk of type II diabetes is increasing.
In 2009, research indicated that a cup of coffee per day reduced the incidence of diabetes by 7 percent.
Other studies including this one have shown similar results. Heavy coffee drinkers have a 50 percent lower chance of acquiring diabetes.
How does coffee reduce diabetes?
- Coffee assists the body in using insulin. It also protects the islet beta-cells (cells producing insulin) from damage. This enhances blood-sugar regulation.
- Fights inflammation which a primary risk factor in developing type II diabetes.
- Coffee is also associated with the prevention of tissue damage
But that’s not all.
Caffeic acid is abundant in coffee. And this reduces the accumulation of atypical protein sheets known as amyloid fibrils.
These fibrils deposits are present in the tissues of those with type II diabetes. Hence caffeic acid is considered as the principal agent in preventing the disease.
7. Coffee is healthy for the liver
Besides the reduction of liver cancer, studies also show that coffee reduces the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis.
For every cup of coffee taken, there is a 20 percent decrease in the incidence of cirrhosis. The effect is greater with more cups up to the fourth.
After a drink of coffee, the liver enzymes levels in the blood decrease.
Typically, the liver enzyme levels get high when there is inflammation. Or when there’s any other hepatic damage.
Low amounts of enzymes in the blood helps in preventing liver disease.
8. Can prevent depression
Consumption of coffee is also linked to reduced rates of depression for men and women alike.
The more cups you take, the higher the risk reduction. The direct mechanism in coffee in preventing depression is still unclear.
But, there’s one explanation. Caffeine increases the production of mood neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
9. Coffee helps fight gout
Both regular and decaf intake of this beverage may reduce the risks of gout development. This is one of the amazing health benefits of drinking coffee.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reporters something fascinating.
The researchers found that women who consumed 4 cups of coffee regularly had a 57 percent lowered risk of getting gout.
For those who consumed less than 4 cups per day, the reduced the incidence of gout by 22 percent.
Part of the reason for decreased risk for gout is because of the antioxidants. Antioxidants lower insulin and uric acid levels.
10. Improves exercise performance
Caffeine dehydrates and this has made several fitness enthusiasts shy away from coffee.
But science gives a new view.
Moderate intake of coffee (up to 5 cups per day) does not dehydrate the body. Instead, it reduces fatigue which allows you to work-out longer.
Caffeine improves performance and exercise endurance by fighting fatigue.
This is one of the important health benefits of drinking coffee because it enhances muscle contraction and reducing pain perception. It also raises the blood fatty acid levels, which key for tolerance.