Coffee is a unique beverage with many benefits. Not only does caffeine wake you up and improve performance during exercise, but coffee also contains about one thousand different compounds that scientists haven’t studied well enough yet to know their effects on the body or how they work together as an entire complex chemical mixture rather than just isolated individual ingredients like antioxidants found in green tea for example, but so far everything looks promising!
Here are nine reasons coffee may actually be good for you:
1. Coffee Reduces Your Risk of Cancer
Based on research, coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing certain types of cancer, including liver and colorectal cancers. However coffee consumption behavior is not clear-cut; it’s possible coffee drinkers may engage in other behaviors (or coffee itself) that reduce the risk.
2. Coffee Can Increase Athletic Ability and Endurance
A recent study found coffee improved endurance exercise performance by 11% on average. Researchers believe coffee boosts athletic ability because caffeine can increase free fatty acid mobilization from fat tissue to use as an energy source during physical activity, which provides athletes with extra fuel for their workouts.
3. Coffee Can Improve Mental Performance
Coffee also has positive effects on mental acuity and cognitive function, possibly increasing motivation and alertness without causing anxiety. In a study of forty coffee drinkers, participants who drank coffee were better able to focus on repetitive numerical tasks and recall words from a list.
4. Coffee Is Full of Antioxidants
Coffee is the richest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, according to research published by Harvard’s School of Public Health. A cup of coffee contains about 1,000 milligrams (1g) of polyphenols, which are antioxidants that reduce free radical cell damage by eliminating highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules before they can harm cells.
5. Coffee May Protect against Parkinson’s disease
In addition to caffeine’s positive effects on mental acuity and cognitive function, coffee may also have protective effects against Parkinson’s disease. Multiple studies have linked coffee consumption to a lower risk of developing this incurable neurological disorder, which is characterized by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain.
6. Coffee May Improve Metabolic Health
Coffee may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance because coffee contains chlorogenic acid, also found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, which functions as an anti-diabetic agent. Research has shown coffee drinkers are less likely to be obese or have metabolic syndrome, too.
7. Coffee Can Lower Your Risk for Depression
A study published in The Archives of Internal Medicine found coffee drinkers are less likely to develop depression than those who don’t drink coffee, though more studies are needed to determine whether coffee prevents depression or if coffee drinkers engage in other healthy behaviors that reduce their risk for the condition.
8. Coffee May Improve Memory and Cognitive Function
According to research published by St. John’s University, coffee can improve memory and help you learn better because caffeine boosts dopamine levels in the brain, which is involved in cognitive function. Coffee also contains an amino acid called L-theanine, which increases alpha waves in the brain–a marker of deep relaxation–and promotes a calm alertness without drowsiness.
9. Coffee Is Linked with a Decreased Risk of Premature Death
In fact, coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of death from all causes, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers believe coffee lowers the risk because coffee contains antioxidants and other healthy compounds.
The Bottom Line
Coffee is low in calories with little nutritional value besides the nutrients obtained from the cream and sugar added during preparation, so it’s not surprising coffee drinkers are more likely to be overweight. But coffee may promote health through its antioxidant properties. In fact, coffee has more antioxidants than green tea or fruits like oranges, grapes, and apples. To maximize coffee’s health benefits while minimizing negative effects on weight gain, moderation is key: stick to three or four cups per day (400 milligrams or less of caffeine), and skip the cream and sugar. Also, coffee is acidic , which can erode tooth enamel; drink coffee with a straw to minimize contact with your teeth, and brush your teeth after you finish drinking coffee to prevent acid erosion.