Do you smell it? Can you taste it? For some people, that unmistakable smell and delectable taste are the main reasons to pry themselves out of bed each morning. What is it? It’s the eye-opening and mouth-watering beverage that’s consumed by an estimated 100 million Americans on a daily basis and it comes from a simple bean coffee.
Your daily cup of coffee may be doing more for you than providing that early-morning pick-me-up.
The health impact of coffee has long been a controversial topic, with advocates touting its antioxidant activity and brain-boosting ability, and detractors detailing downsides such as insomnia, indigestion and an increased heart rate and blood pressure. But the latest wave of scientific evidence brings a wealth of good news for coffee lovers.
Here are the reasons drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought.
Moderate coffee drinking between 1 and 5 cups daily may help reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as Parkinson’s disease, studies suggest. How? Coffee’s antioxidants may prevent some damage to brain cells and boost the effects of neurotransmitters involved in cognitive function, say experts. Preliminary studies have noted that as coffee (or tea) intake rises, incidence of glioma, a form of brain cancer, tends to drop. Some researchers speculate that compounds in the brews could activate a DNA-repairing protein in cells possibly preventing the DNA damage that can lead to cells becoming cancerous.
Studies link frequent coffee consumption (4 cups per day or more) with a lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Scientists suspect that antioxidant compounds in coffee cholorogenic acid and quinides may boost cells’ sensitivity to insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar. While most of the research didn’t assess whether the brews were caffeinated, decaf may be even better, since other studies have found that caffeine tends to blunt the insulin-sensitivity boost.
Some studies show that moderate coffee drinkers (1 to 3 cups/day) have lower rates of stroke than non-coffee-drinkers; coffee’s antioxidants may help quell inflammation’s damaging effects on arteries. Some researchers speculate that the compounds might boost activation of nitric oxide, a substance that widens blood vessels (lowering blood pressure). More java isn’t better: a 5-cup or more daily habit is associated with higher heart disease risks. Researchers believe excessive caffeine may sabotage the antioxidants’ effects.
Though the research is limited at best, it appears that the more coffee people drink, the lower their incidence of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. One analysis of nine studies found that every 2-cup increase in daily coffee intake was associated with a 43 percent lower risk of liver cancer. Possible explanation: caffeine and antioxidant chlorogenic and caffeic acids in coffee might prevent liver inflammation and inhibit cancer cells.
Is there anything sadder than seeing an aging loved one drastically losing their mental sharpness? You may be powerless to prevent it, but, according to a recent study, coffee may be able to help you from falling into the same trap. Researchers discovered that participants who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 65% decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later on in life. To ensure you’re always drinking enough coffee, make it a point of always consuming coffee with your meals.
Anybody who’s serious about health knows the importance of a healthy cardiovascular system. What they may not know is that by simply drinking one or two cups of coffee per day they could have a significantly reduced risk of cardiovascular disease-related death. According to a Japanese study of more than 76,000 participants, men consuming one to two cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease by as much as 38%. Of course, this still doesn’t excuse you from cardio exercises.
Want to lower your risk of death? A National Institutes of Health AARP Diet and Health study of more than 400,000 people revealed that drinking coffee might be the answer. Between 1995 and 2008, male participants drinking even just one daily cup reduced their risk of death by 6%. Drinking either two to three cups or six or more cups reduced the risk by 10% during the timeframe of the study. The greatest reduction of death risk was 12% in the group drinking four to five cups. Know your limit: five cups.
Are you in pain during the course of a typical workday? It’s not that unusual. But, what is surprising is the degree to which many people feel rejuvenated following a coffee break and there may be a reason why. Norwegian researchers observed 48 people performing office work and found that those who consumed coffee only declared a pain-intensity level of 41, whereas participants who didn’t drink any coffee reported having a score of 55. If this study is any indication, you might want to take your coffee breaks literally.
When you think of coffee, you usually think of the beverage. However, if your focus is weight loss, green coffee extract could be an effective aid. Following a 22-week study of 16 overweight adults, researchers discovered that participants given green coffee bean extract had undergone significant weight loss with 37.5% of them transitioning from being at a pre-obesity weight to a normal weight range. If you’re battling the bulge, consider complementing your workouts by looking at the green bean capsule aisle of your local health nutrition store.