Coffee is the favorite beverage of millions of people worldwide, but when it comes to its effects on our health, there are experts who claim that it is super healthy, and others that claim that is can harm our body.
Donald Hensrud, M.D. explains that coffee has been consumed for a long time, and has been blamed for numerous health issues, from stunting the growth to causing heart disease. However, newest research shod that it can actually have numerous health benefits.
Researchers have found no link between coffee and an increased risk of heart disease or cancer, and on the contrary, some have discovered an association between coffee consumption and decreased overall mortality and possibly cardiovascular mortality.
If you wonder why these beliefs about coffee has changed drastically, consider the fact that earlier, studies didn’t always take into account that known high-risk behaviors, like smoking and physical inactivity, tended to be more common among heavy coffee drinkers.
Studies have proven that this drink may have health benefits, including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee also improves cognitive function and lowers the risk of depression.
Yet, the research appears to bear out some risks, as the excessive consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been linked to mild elevations in cholesterol levels.
Some studies have even found that two or more cups of coffee daily can elevate the risk of heart disease in people with a specific genetic mutation that slows the breakdown of caffeine in the body.
Therefore, we decided to take a more detailed look, and review both, the pros and cons.
1. Coffee is rich in nutrients and antioxidants
Coffee is high in antioxidants that prevent premature aging and cancer, and a typical 8oz (240 ml) cup of coffee contains :
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 11% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 6% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 2% of the RDA.
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 2% of the RDA.
- Folate: 1% of the RDA.
- Manganese: 3% of the RDA.
- Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
- Magnesium: 2% of the RDA.
- Phosphorus: 1% of the RDA.
2. Coffee lowers the risk of liver disease
The role of the liver is very important for our overall health. Yet, it can often suffer from serious damage that reduces its proper function. However, people who drink coffee have been shown to have an 84% lower risk of developing cirrhosis, with the strongest effect for those who drink 4 or more cups daily, and a 40% lower risk of liver cancer.
3. Coffee lowers the risk of depression and suicide
Depression is the most common mental disorder in the world, and it drastically reduces the quality of life. Yet, a 2011 Harvard study found that people who drank the most coffee had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed. Additionally, one review of 3 studies also revealed that people who drank 4 or more cups of coffee daily were 53% less likely to commit suicide.
4. Caffeine improves Brain Function and Boosts Metabolism
Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance around the world, and it is a known stimulant. It blocks the function of an inhibitory neurotransmitter (brain hormone) called Adenosine, and thus boosts the brain activity and the release of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine. It also leads to a short-term boost in brain function, and thus improves mood, reaction time, vigilance, and general cognitive function. It accelerates metabolism and increases exercise performance.
5. Coffee lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Researchers have found that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and a 32-60% lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.
6. Coffee drinkers live longer
Since coffee drastically lowers the risk of numerous diseases and ailments, it makes sense that it actually leads to longevity. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that participants who drank coffee had a much lower risk of dying over the 12-13 year study period.
They found that the consumption of 4-5 cups daily led to a 12% reduced risk in men and a 16% reduced risk in women.
On the other hand, take a look at the possible negative aspects of the consumption of coffee:
1. Caffeine can disrupt sleep and lead to anxiety
The excess consumption of caffeine can make you overstimulated, and lead to poor sleep quality. Caffeine can also have some diuretic and blood pressure raising effects.
2. Caffeine is addictive
Caffeine can cause addiction in many people, and when people; consume it regularly, they become tolerant of it. Yet, when they abstain from caffeine, they might experience withdrawal symptoms like headache, tiredness, brain fog and irritability.
Numerous people opt for decaffeinated coffee instead of regular, in order to prevent these issues. Yet, note that even decaffeinated coffee contains some caffeine, but much less than regular coffee. Moreover, studies have shown that not all of the health benefits of regular coffee apply to decaffeinated coffee.
In order to get the most out of your cup of coffee, make sure you follow these tips:
- Do not add anything unhealthy to your coffee, like sugar or any artificial creamer
- Brew your coffee with a paper filter, as unfiltered coffee contains cafestol, which raises cholesterol levels
- Avoid some sweet coffee variants you can find in places like Starbucks, as they are loaded with sugar and calories
You might need to avoid or drastically limit the intake of coffee in case you suffer from insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure, or in the case of pregnancy.
On the other hand, it is clear that coffee offers numerous benefits for your health, and they seem to far outweigh the negatives. Above all, it belongs in the same category as healthy beverages like green tea.