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Benefits Of Coffee

Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, it also seems to be quite healthy. Studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.

Here are the top 10 health benefits of coffee.

1. Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter

Coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels (1Trusted Source, 2). That’s because it contains a stimulant called caffeine — the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world (3). After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to your brain (4). In the brain, caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine. When this happens, the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source). Many controlled studies in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function — including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function (7Trusted Source, 8, 9).

2. Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance

Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, signaling fat cells to break down body fat (13Trusted Source, 14). But it also increases epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in your blood (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source). This is the fight-or-flight hormone, which prepares your body for intense physical exertion. Caffeine breaks down body fat, making free fatty acids available as fuel (17Trusted Source, 18). Given these effects, it’s unsurprising that caffeine can improve physical performance by 11–12%, on average (20Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source). Therefore, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about half an hour before you head to the gym.

3. May Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem, currently affecting millions of people worldwide. It’s characterized by elevated blood sugar levels caused by insulin resistance or a reduced ability to secrete insulin. For some reason, coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. Studies observe that people who drink the most coffee have a 23–50% lower risk of getting this disease. One study showed a reduction as high as 67% (22, 23Trusted Source, 24Trusted Source, 25, 26). According to a large review of 18 studies in a total of 457,922 people, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (27Trusted Source).

4. May Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide. This condition usually affects people over 65, and there is no known cure. However, there are several things you can do to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place. This includes the usual suspects like eating healthy and exercising, but drinking coffee may be incredibly effective as well. Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease (28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source).

5. Your liver loves coffee.

It’s true: In addition to lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated an inverse correlation between increased coffee consumption and a decreased risk of cirrhosis — a 20-percent reduction for each cup consumed (up to four cups). How it works: Scientists found an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and blood levels of liver enzymes. Elevated levels of liver enzymes typically reflect inflammation and damage to the liver. The more coffee subjects drank, the lower their levels of enzymes. 8. 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. 9. 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. 10. Coffee guards against gout. Independent studies on the coffee consumption patterns of men and women suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces the risk of developing gout. Researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study analyzed the health habits of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found a positive correlation between long-term coffee consumption and a decreased risk for gout. The benefit was associated with both regular and decaf consumption: women who drank more than four cups of regular coffee daily had a 57 percent decreased risk of gout; gout risk decreased 22 percent in women who drank between one and three cups daily; and one cup of decaf per day was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of gout when compared to the women who didn’t drink coffee at all. Similar findings have been documented for men: another large-scale study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of gout by 40 percent, and that those who consumed six cups or more lowered gout risk by 60 percent. 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).
The Cons of Coffee Drinking The potential health benefits of drinking coffee are exciting news, but that doesn’t mean more is better. For some people, coffee can cause irritability, nervousness or anxiety in high doses, and it can also impact sleep quality and cause insomnia. In people with hypertension, coffee consumption does transiently raise their blood pressure — although for no more than several hours — but no correlation has been found between coffee drinking and long-term increases in blood pressure or the incidence of cardiovascular disease in patients with pre-existing hypertension. Caffeine affects every person differently, so if you experience any negative side effects, consider cutting your coffee consumption accordingly. It takes about six hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, so limit coffee drinking to early in the day, or switch to decaf, which only contains about 2 to 12 mg of caffeine per eight ounces. Always taper your coffee consumption gradually. Avoid quitting coffee cold turkey; doing so can lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms that may include severe headache, muscle aches and fatigue which can last for days. How to Keep It Healthy So how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much? Two to three eight-ounce cups per day is considered moderate; heavy coffee drinkers consume four cups or more daily. Remember, the amount of caffeine per coffee beverage varies depending upon the preparation and style of beverage. Eight ounces of brewed coffee may contain as little as 80 to as much as 200 mg of caffeine per cup (an “average” cup probably contains about 100 mg). Your best bet: Skip the sugar-laden coffeehouse beverages and order a basic black coffee. Alternatively, switch to plain whole milk or unsweetened soy or nut milk.

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