For many Americans, waking up to a piping hot cup of coffee is the only way to start the morning. In fact, my husband finds it physically impossible to get up without one! A conversation simply can’t happen before a cup of Joe.
The good news for most people is that research now tell us that coffee has a slew positive effects for your overall health in addition to ensuring you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning.
It turns out the benefits of coffee are almost endless. Read on to find out exactly what they are.
1. Coffee Fills You with Energy
As we’ve just mentioned, the most obvious benefit of coffee is the fact it can give you the boost you need each morning by making you feel less tired and more energized.
This is because coffee is full of caffeine, a stimulant which is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance throughout the world. (source)
Caffeine works by affecting the nervous system. It activates noradrenaline neurons and affects the local release of dopamine. This increases the firing of neurons in the brain, thus giving you energy and making you more alert. (source)
2. Coffee Can Help You Feel Happier
One of the many benefits of coffee is that, according to research, it can help beat depression.
Depression is a common, yet widely misunderstood illness. In fact, according to the World Health Organization, depression is the most common mental illness worldwide, affecting over 120 million people. (source)
Depression is characterized by “sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, feelings of tiredness, and poor concentration.” (source)
Depression can be long-lasting or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual’s ability to function at work or school or cope with daily life. At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide.
In the US alone, 4.1% of people meet the criteria for clinical depression. Yet, a study conducted by Harvard showed that women who drank 4 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to become depressed. (source)
Another similar study also showed that people drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day were 53% less likely to commit suicide. (source)
3. It’s Packed With Essential Nutrients
We all know that fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrition. However, many people seem to forget when buying their jar of instant coffee that this beverage is actually originally from a bean.
Like other beans, the coffee bean has many essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals, many of which make it all the way into your morning cup including (source):
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 11% of the RDV.
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 6% of the RDV.
- Manganese: 3% of the RDV
- Potassium: 3% of the RDV.
- Magnesium: 2% of the RDV
- Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDV
- Folate (folic acid): 1% of the RDV
- Phosphorus: 1% of the RDV
- Protein: 1% of the RDV
Granted, 1 or 2 percent isn’t a huge number when it comes to nutrition. Yet, most coffee drinkers would admit to downing more than one cup per day. Therefore, you would be surprised just how quickly those numbers add up.
4. Coffee is an Antioxidant
For most Americans following a typical western diet, coffee may actually be one of the healthiest aspects they consume.
Antioxidants are incredibly important for the human body. They fight free radicals and inflammation which can in turn lead to some of the most deadly diseases in the world such as cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke), currently the number one worldwide killer.
Coffee is actually packed with antioxidants. In fact, some studies have shown that people get more antioxidants from the coffee in their diet than fruits and vegetables combined (source).
The antioxidant power of coffee is shown to prevent inflammation leading to several diseases. In most recent research according to the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 4 cups of coffee a day can lower your risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). (source)
5. Coffee Could Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes affects around 300 million of people across the world each year. 29.1 million Americans (or 9.3% of the entire population) have diabetes, with 1.4 million being diagnosed each year according to the American Diabetes Association. (source)
The disease is characterized by abnormally elevated blood sugar levels and a resistance to insulin.
Research has shown however that coffee drinkers are at lower risk of type II diabetes. Numerous studies have been conducted (source) with most showing that those who regularly drink coffee have over 25% lower risk of diabetes. (source)
According to one review which looked at numerous studies on the topic, it was evaluated that each daily cup of coffee lowered the risk of developing diabetes by 7%. (source)
6. Coffee Can Lower Your Risk of Chronic Diseases
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases are two of the most degenerative neurological conditions in existence. Unfortunately, to date there is no cure for either.
Alzheimer’s is the leading cause of dementia worldwide and typically begins with subtle and poorly recognized failure of memory and slowly becomes more severe and, eventually, incapacitating. (source)
Parkinson’s is a disease of the nervous system that mostly affects older people. It typically begins after the age of 50. The disease can be very hard to live with because it severely restricts mobility and as a result makes daily activities increasingly difficult. (source)
Numerous research has shown that coffee drinkers could be at significantly lower risk of developing both diseases.
In terms of Alzheimer’s, studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to 65% lower risk of developing the disease. (source) With Parkinson’s, studies have shown that consuming caffeine lowers the risk of developing the disease by up to 60%. (source)
7. Coffee Can Help Lower Your Risk Of Cancer
One of the other benefits of coffee is that it may help you to lower your risk of certain types of cancer.
Cancer is a generic term for a large group of diseases characterized by the growth of abnormal cells beyond their usual boundaries. They then invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs. Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, 8.8 million people died worldwide from cancer, with 30-50% of cancers being preventable. They also estimate that the global economic cost of cancer is $1.16 trillion dollars. (source)
Coffee seems to be helpful in preventing both colorectal and liver cancer, according to research. These two forms of cancer rank third and fourth on the global scale of cancer deaths. (source)
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionstudied 489,706 people and showed that those who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had 15% lower chance of developing colorectal cancer. (source)
Further research has found that coffee drinkers have a 40% lower risk of developing liver cancer. (source)
8. Coffee Protects Your Heart
Looking after your cardiovascular health is seriously important. Research has shown that just 2 cups of coffee a day could significantly lower your risk of cardiovascular disease related death.
This was confirmed in a Japanese study which showed that participants who drank 2 cups of coffee daily actually lowered their risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 38%. (source)
9. Coffee Can Help You Burn More Fat
One of the benefits of coffee that appeals to many fitness fanatics is its ability to aid fat burning. This is one of the reasons why you will find it in almost all commercial fat burning supplements.
Research has concluded that caffeine can boost your metabolism by up to 11%. (source)
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that caffeine can increase fat burning by 10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean individuals. (source)
Further research shows that caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat. (source)
Caffeine also encourages the body to break down body fat, releasing fat cells into the blood as free fatty acids, thus, making them available as fuel. (source)
10. Coffee Can Improve Physical Performance
Caffeine encourages the secretion of epinephrine (adrenaline), increasing levels within our blood. This ‘fight or flight’ hormone prepared the body for significant physical exertion. (source)
Research has shown that due to this, physical performance can be increased by around 11%. (source)
Moreover, studies have found that just 2 cups of coffee after a workout can decrease post workout muscle pain by 48%. (source)
11. Coffee Could Help You Live Longer
One of the benefits of coffee that everyone wants to reap is the fact that it promotes longevity.
Going hand-in-hand with the research we have already mentioned, it’s no surprise that in turn, this can potentially extend your lifespan.
Once again, science backs this theory. Research has shown that coffee drinkers actually have a lower risk of death. Actually 20% lower for men and 26% lower for women, according to studies. (source)
Even The Government Recommends We Drink Coffee
In the new dietary guidelines set out by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is recommended that people drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee daily in order to improve overall health and reduce the risk of disease. (source)
However, it is worth noting that these same guidelines do advise that adding sugar, creamers or flavorings quickly negates the benefits of coffee.
Are There Any Precautions?
Of course, we all know that one caffeine hater who tells you about all the negative side effects of coffee. However, generally speaking, a couple of cups a day is a healthy addition to anyone’s diet.
However, those who are unable to control their caffeine intake or have a caffeine sensitivity may need to avoid coffee. Also, anyone with heart conditions and women who are pregnant, will have to skip the morning cup of Joe as well.
But if you are concerned about your coffee intake, don’t automatically assume switching to decaf allows you the benefits of coffee without any risk of side effects. Most of the scientific research into the benefits of coffee showed that the cancer killing, disease preventing goodness actually comes from the caffeine in coffee.
The top and bottom of it is moderation. Around 3 cups a day is a good amount in order to reap the benefits of coffee without consuming it in excess.
Also remember that coffee has a typical half life of 8 to 10 hours, so you may need to stop reaching for the java at around 2 pm, if you don’t want to be up all night counting sheep.