I would never write a negative article on coffee. Not a single word. No matter how much evidence there was supporting the horrible effects of coffee, I love drinking it too much to ever face those facts. Luckily I don’t have to. That’s because there are actually numerous health benefits to drinking coffee, allowing to not only me to justify my dependence, but actually back it up with scientific support.
Coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants
Antioxidants fight inflammation as well as free radicals, which damage cells1. Numerous studies have found coffee beans to have more caffeine than most antioxidant superstars like green tea or various fruits. Scientists at the University of British Columbia found that this potent antioxidant quality results from the roasting process2 that darker brews undergo.
Coffee lowers the risk of certain cancers
Cancer can be described in the most basic terms as abnormal cell growth. There are numerous types of cancers, several of which studies have found coffee effective in preventing. Three meta-studies, which are the combination of several small studies into one, suggest that drinking four or more cups of coffee a day may reduce the chance of colorectal cancer3 up to 24%. Another type of cancer that may be reduced by drinking coffee is liver cancer. One study found that those who drank four cups of coffee were about half as likely to develop liver cancer as those who didn’t drink coffee. A Japanese study found that those who drank at least five cups of coffee a day had a 76% decreased risk.
It has proven effective in preventing neurodegenerative diseases
There are numerous studies4 that suggest that drinking between three and five cups of coffee a day decreases the risk of cognitive decline with diseases like Alzheimer’s5 and Parkinson’s6. These are the two most common neurodegenerative diseases that affect those who are 65 years and older. There are no known cures for either, and researchers are still unsure exactly how coffee prevents the diseases, but the positive correlations are encouragement for further studies.
Drinking coffee will boost your energy
This seems like a no brainer but it’s a huge benefit of drinking coffee. It’s probably the reason why so many drink the stuff in the first place. Caffeine can delay fatigue7 by blocking adenosine receptors, allowing you to feel awake and energized for longer. Adenosine is the chemical compound that has many functions, one of which is promoting sleep8 by suppressing arousal. Caffeine also boosts the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine. Serotonin is believed to be a mood balancer and when boosted improves mood. Dopamine affects concentration, and acetylcholine signals muscles to begin or stop movement.
Coffee may lower your risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. It causes your body to be insulin resistant, making it impossible for your body to produce enough insulin to keep your blood sugar levels normal. Numerous studies have found that consuming coffee (or tea) several times a day can reduce the risk of type II diabetes. One study found that at least three cups of coffee can lower the risk by 42%. Another study found that at least four cups10 were associated with a 30% decrease. The biggest correlation11 between coffee intake and decreased risk of diabetes is at 67% and found only by drinking 12 of more cups of coffee daily.
It has a protective effect on the liver
The liver is susceptible to numerous diseases. Those diseases may result in cirrhosis, a condition where the liver is mainly replaced by scar tissue. One study in particular concluded that coffee drinkers have a 66% lower mortality rate12 due to cirrhosis than non-coffee drinkers. Unsurprisingly, alcohol consumption among participants in this study had a greater mortality rate due to cirrhosis than non-drinkers.
Caffeine can help you lose weight
Caffeine has been shown to have anti-obesity effects13 in mice on a high-fat diet. Caffeine was proven effective in a study with “lean and postobese human volunteers14,” suggesting that caffeine may have an effective thermogenesis effect. It also happens to be one of the very few all natural substances that have proven effective in fat burning.
Coffee can curb depression
Though researchers’ understanding of how caffeine affects depression, some studies suggest that there is a positive correlation between caffeine intake and improvement15 of mood. Similarly, another study performed over a 10 year span suggested that there’s a positive correlation between caffeine intake and risk of suicide16 (that is, drinking coffee lowered the risk of suicide).
It provides a short term memory boost
A small study performed by Austrian researchers17 found that caffeine consumption improved memory skills and reaction times in participants. Participants who did not receive a placebo consumed a dose of caffeine equivalent to that of a single cup of coffee. Caffeine appears to affect the parts of the brain involved with memory and concentration, though there isn’t yet enough research to draw concrete conclusions. It’s likely that increased energy level caused by caffeine has some effect on these skills.
Coffee is healthy for your heart
A Dutch study analyzed over 37,000 people, coffee drinkers and non-drinkers, over a period of 13 years. The study found18 that those who drank between 2 to 4 cups daily had a 20% lower risk of heart disease compared to those who were considered light or heavy coffee drinkers, or non-coffee drinkers. As an antioxidant, coffee may protect against arterial damage that’s caused by inflammation. The Downside to Coffee Like almost anything in life, the good doesn’t come without the bad, and coffee is no exception. Heavy coffee drinkers may experience numerous side effects19, including but not limited to irritability, insomnia, upset stomach, and muscle tremors. The acid in coffee20 can irritate your stomach lining and cause ulcers. It can also irritate the lining of your small intestine, causing IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Not to mention the excessive energy that may occur from too much coffee. Instead allowing you to be focused and productive, you become restless and jittery. Those who don’t drink it regularly are particularly prone to these short term effects. What it all comes down to is a choice. Whether you believe the pros outweigh the cons, or vice versa. But if you ask me, I’ll never go a day without my coffee.