Do you love drinking a daily cup of java? You aren’t alone, as about 83%, or two-thirds of people in the US, drink at least one cup every day. But that is on the low end, since many people enjoy between two to four cups daily. So, what does the science say about one of America’s favorite beverages? While this stimulating drink has been villainized in the past, current research shows you may actually benefitfrom drinking coffee.
This article will go into depth about those potential health benefits of coffee – and how it can potentially influence both your vitality and longevity. It will also include suggestions for how much coffee you should drink and alert against the downsides of this caffeinated beverage.
Coffee dates back to 800 A.D., when goat herders first noticed how energetic their goats were after eating the fruit of the Coffea plant. The pits (or seeds) of the berry-like fruit (that resembles cherries) were actually coffee beans! The only reason we call them is beans because of their resemblance to legumes.
Today, there are two main types of coffee, Arabica and Robusta; The Robusta version is much less popular, but contains more caffeine. Instead, growers mostly plant the Arabica species. As for where the growers are, Brazil produces about a third of the world’s supply. Vietnam comes in second, while only two US states produce coffee: Hawaii and California.
Is Coffee Good For You?
As for whether or not coffee is good for you, we’re going to unpack the latest research, showing you that possibly to your surprise, coffee is actually recommended for its health benefits. But it’s important to remember that it all depends on the type of coffee you choose.
While black coffee offers a number of beneficial properties – and only contains one calorie per cup – many people don’t drink their coffee black. But how healthy your coffee is depends on what you put in it. If you’re loading it up with sugar, you’re defeating the health factor.
In addition, when you order coffee from coffee shops, stay away from highly-sweetened, high-calorie specialty drinks as much as possible. Some of these, especially those in extra-large sizes, end up having more calories than some meals at fast food restaurants – and won’t fill you up!
7 Proven Health Benefits of Coffee
All that being said, coffee can actually be quite nutritious, if you keep it simple. Here is what the current research suggests about this beloved beverage….
High in Antioxidants
Coffee is naturally rich in antioxidants; In fact, it’s been labeled as one of the largest sources of antioxidants in the Western diet! This is because (especially if you have more than one cup of coffee daily), many people get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and veggies combined.
Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body – or molecules that in overabundance can lead to imbalance and disease. Therefore, they keep us healthy and feeling our best.
Contains Essential Nutrients
Coffee also is a source of some essential nutrients that support optimal wellness. Just one cup of coffee contains:
- Riboflavin, or vitamin B2 – 11% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5 – 6% RDI
- Manganese and Potassium – 3% RDI
- Magnesium and Niacin, or vitamin B3 – 2% RDI
Although these are small amounts, if people have more than one cup each day, they can add up.
Boosts Energy Levels & Improves Brain Function
Coffee also contains caffeine, which is a stimulant that can increase your energy and cause you to feel less tired. Caffeine is absorbed in your bloodstream but also goes to your brain – where it leads to enhanced firing of neurons.
Studies show that this activity leads to coffee improving various aspects of brain function (like memory, mood, energy, vigilance, reaction times and mental performance).
Enhances Physical Performance
What’s good for the brain is also good for the body. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which signals fat cells to break down body fat. These fatty acids are then available as fuel. Studies therefore show that it can improve physical performance. For this reason, many people enjoy coffee before physical exercise, to improve results.
Coffee also helps boost your metabolism and increase fat-burning processes. Several studies show that the caffeine in coffee can boost your metabolic rate by 3-11%. A faster metabolism means more energy for you, and more calories burned throughout the day.
Helps Fight Depression
Because drinking coffee influences your brain and can positively affect your mood, studies show that it can help ward away depression. In a 2011 study, women you drank 4 or more cups of coffee every day had a 20% lower risk of developing depression.
Lowers Risk of Disease
Due to its high amounts of polyphenols – or plant-based molecules packed with antioxidants –coffee helps reduce oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. An inflamed, imbalanced body is one of the biggest risk factors for disease – therefore coffee can help reduce your risk of some of the most dangerous diseases.
And while some sources used to state that coffee was bad for your heart, recent data shows it may actually protect heart health! This is one of the main reasons that studies show drinking coffee may actually help you live longer. The strongest data for this was shown in people who drank 4-5 cups per day.
Flip Side: Is Coffee Bad For You?
Now that we know how good coffee can be for you, let’s talk about some of the downsides, so that you are aware and act accordingly…
May Cause Anxiety & Disrupt Sleep
As you know, coffee is a stimulant (and a psychoactive drug). And those who are particularly sensitive to it may find that they have more anxiety when drinking it. Basically, anyone who has too much caffeine may feel jittery, anxious, or have heart palpitations. And the threshold of what too much is for you depends upon your sensitivity to it.
Therefore, if you ever start to feel uncomfortable after drinking coffee, you should stop immediately. Also, due to the caffeine content, drinking coffee too late in the day could prevent you from getting a good night’s rest.
It’s Highly Addictive
The caffeine in coffee is a drug – a natural, highly-accepted drug, but still a drug! It alters the way you feel, giving you more energy and mental clarity. But it’s important to remember that once you start drinking it, your brain will crave it.
And if you have a day where you don’t drink coffee, you can end up with withdrawal symptoms including headache, brain fog and irritability.
Digestive Problems with Excessive Use
Since coffee is so acidic, there used to be fear that it could cause digestive problems including ulcers. However, it is now commonly believed that you can have up to 400mg a day (or about four 8-ounce cups of coffee) daily without health risks. However, due to individual sensitivities, you should still stop drinking it if you have any stomach discomfort.
Ready to get your java on?! Coffee is a stimulating, popular ingredient in many meal replacement shake recipes. In addition, for those on low-carb diets, keto coffee has been said to boost physical and mental performance even more than coffee alone. Cheers!