11 Ways that Drinking Coffee Can Improve Your Health

cup of coffee

Photo Credit: Julius Schorzman

It turns out that drinking coffee, especially black coffee, can be beneficial to your health. Black coffee is low in calories and fat. (Of course, when you start adding sugar and cream, then the fat and calorie content increases.) However you drink it, coffee is loaded with healthy compounds that have some pretty amazing health benefits.

Before you increase your coffee consumption, check with your doctor to discuss the best amount of coffee you should have per day.


Coffee Contains Antioxidants

Did you know that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other food or beverage source? It’s true! And it applies to both caffeinated and decaf versions. Specifically, coffee contains polyphenols or flavenoids. There are a number of polyphenols that work with other nutrients to fight off disease.

Coffee Can Make You Smarter

There are many scientific studies that show coffee improves brain function. When you drink coffee, caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to your brain. When caffeine reaches your brain, it blocks a neurotransmitter called Adenosine. This increases the amount of two other neurotransmitters in the brain called norepinephrine and dopamine. The net effect is that the caffeine results in increased brain activity, improved memory, better mood, improved general cognitive function, and more energy.

Coffee Helps to Burn Fat

There are several studies that show that caffeine can increase the resting metabolic rate from 3% to 11%. It stimulates the central nervous system which then causes fat cells to break down. This means that your body will burn fat even if you’re not dieting or exercising. (Yes!)

Coffee Can Accelerate Physical Performance

Caffeine increases the level of Epinephrine (which is adrenaline) in our bodies. Adrenaline is a hormone that prepares muscles for physical exertion. Studies have shown that caffeine can increase physical performance by up to 12%. So if you’re planning a workout, having a cup of coffee 30 to 45 minutes before you get to the gym could help you to perform better.

Coffee Can Help Us to Live Longer

A 2015 research study suggested that drinking coffee regularly could lower the risk of death from heart disease and diabetes. Analysis of slightly over 90,000 study participants showed that people who drank 4 to 5 cups of coffee per day enjoyed the lowest risk of death from heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, suicide, and influenza. Those who only drank 2 to 3 cups of coffee daily also had a lower risk of death. Finally, those who drank decaffeinated coffee enjoyed the same benefits, suggesting that the benefits came from coffee components other than caffeine.

Coffee and Skin Cancer for Women

Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital followed 112,897 men and women over 20 years. They found that women who drank or more cups of coffee a day wee much less likely to develop skin cancer than women who didn’t drink coffee.

Coffee Can Reduce the Risk of Type II Diabetes

Researchers at Harvard focused on the relationship between diet and Type II diabetes. Part of the process was evaluating questionnaires from the study participants every 4 years. They found that when participants increased their coffee intake by more than one cup a day over a 4-year period, they had an 11% lower risk of developing Type II diabetes than those participants who didn’t increase their intake of coffee.

Those participants who lowered their daily coffee consumption by more than one cup a day had a 17% higher risk for diabetes. Changes in decaffeinated coffee consumption and caffeinated tea consumption were not connected to changes in risk for Type II diabetes.

Coffee and Parkinson’s Disease

U.S. researchers found that increased coffee and caffeine consumption can lower the incidence of Parkinson’s Disease. In fact, for those who already have this disease, it can help to control some of the involuntary movements that are associated with the disease. The beneficial effects come from the caffeine in coffee and not from other nutrients found in coffee.

Coffee and Liver Disease

There have been international studies that showed if you drink coffee, you can lower your chances of getting liver cancer by 40% to 50%. Coffee can also lower the occurrence of cirrhosis of the liver for people who drink alcohol to excess. The liver health benefits of coffee can also be found in decaf coffee. Researchers think rather than caffeine, there are enzymes and compounds in coffee that mitigate the effect of toxins in the liver.

Coffee and Heart Health

One study has shown that people who drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day had a reduced amount of calcium deposits in their coronary arteries when compared to people who did not drink coffee. A previous analysis of 36 studies discovered that moderate coffee consumption was related to a lower risk of heart disease. The current thinking is that the many antioxidants contained in coffee may be the mechanism that lowers the risk of heart disease for coffee drinkers.

Coffee and Alzheimer’s Disease

One international study followed 1,400 people for 20 years. Those who drank 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were 655 less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease when compared with occasional coffee drinkers and nondrinkers.

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