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 reasons coffee is more than a stimulant and why drinking Coffee may be healthier than you thought.
Coffee is a potent source of healthful antioxidants.
In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars
How it works: Antioxidants fight inflammation, an underlying cause of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and many types of cancer. They also neutralize free radicals, which occur naturally as a part of everyday metabolic functions, but which can cause oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease. In other words, antioxidants help keep us healthy at the micro-level by protecting our cells from damage. Finally, chromogenic acid, an important antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee, is also thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Caffeine provides a short-term memory boost.
How it works: Caffeine appears to affect the particular areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration, providing a boost to short-term memory, although it’s not clear how long the effect lasts or how it may vary from person to person.
Coffee may help protect against cognitive decline.
In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
How it works: There are several theories about how coffee may help prevent or protect against cognitive decline. One working theory: caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers also theorize that because coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, it also lowers the risk for developing dementia.
Coffee is healthy for your heart.
How it works: There is some evidence that coffee may support heart health by protecting against arterial damage caused by inflammation.
Coffee may help curb certain cancers.
Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. Researchers have also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.
How it works: Polyphenols, antioxidant phytochemicals found in coffee, have demonstrated anti-carcinogenic properties in several studies and are thought to help reduce the inflammation that could be responsible for some tumors.
Coffee may lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
How it works: Scientists believe that coffee may be beneficial in keeping diabetes at bay in several ways: (1) by helping the body use insulin and protecting insulin-producing cells, enabling effective regulation of blood sugar; (2) preventing tissue damage; and (3) and battling inflammation, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes. One component of coffee known as caffeic acid has been found to be particularly significant in reducing the toxic accumulation of abnormal protein deposits (amyloid fibrils) found in people with type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee is thought to be as beneficial, or more so, than regular.
Note: There is some evidence that coffee decreases the sensitivity of muscle cells to the effects of insulin, which might impair the metabolism of sugar and raise blood sugar levels. The significance of this finding, however, is still unclear.
Coffee can enhance exercise performance.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption — up to about 500 mg, or about five cups per day doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.
How it works: Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer; not only does it fight fatigue, but it also strengthens muscle contraction, reduces the exerciser’s perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in the blood, which supports endurance.
Coffee curbs depression.
Multiple studies have linked coffee drinking to lower rates of depression in both men and women. In several studies, the data suggested an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and depression: in other words, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the lowest risk (up to 20 percent) of depression.
How it works: Researchers aren’t yet sure how coffee seems to stave off depression, but it is known that caffeine activates neurotransmitters that control mood, including dopamine and serotonin.
Coffee guards against gout.
Gout is an extremely painful inflammation of the joints, especially of the big toe, caused by a metabolic defect resulting in the accumulation of Uric acid in the blood and the deposition of Urates around the joints.
How it works: According to the Nurses’ Health Study, coffee’s antioxidant properties may decrease the risk of gout by decreasing insulin, which in turn lowers uric acid levels (high concentrations of uric acid can cause gout)
Research by Tjakes