Benefits of Coffee

For better or worse, millions of people start each day with a (large) cup of coffee. And often this first cup of the day is followed by several more. The medical and nutrition fields have been debating about the health benefits of coffee for years, if not centuries. But maybe coffee and other caffeinated beverages have an unfairly, bad reputation. Here are some of the positive points associated with drinking coffee:

  1. Vitamins and Minerals: a typical 240-ml cup of coffee has many nutrients are part of our daily recommended allowance. Although the amounts are relatively small, considering how many cups per day you consume, it adds up to a significant amount. Some of these nutrients include: B vitamins (1, 2, 3, and 5), Folate, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Potassium.
  2. Antioxidants: in the fight against cancer and free radicals, coffee may go a long way. Each coffee bean, whole or ground, is loaded with antioxidants. These antioxidants protect our cells by giving electrons to proteins and DNA which can be damaged by the unpaired electrons in free radicals. The typical “western world diet” gets more antioxidants from coffee as opposed to fruits and vegetables.
  3. Boosting brain function: as a stimulate, coffee has been shown to benefit various brain functions — including energy levels, memory, mood, reaction times, vigilance, and general mental function.
  4. Neurological benefits: coffee drinkers may have reduced risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s—the top ranking neuro-diseases without a known cure. Although not fully conclusive, there is significant evidence to support the theory that caffeine improves the neurological functioning of the brain.
  5. Metabolism and physical performance: some studies have reported that the percentage rates go up an average of 3-12%. This may mean additional fat burning properties for coffee drinkers. Some say the strong taste of black coffee may even act as an appetite suppressant. As far as performance is concerned, many experts recommend having a cup of coffee up to 30 minutes before regular exercise or athletic competition.
  6. Type 2 diabetes and liver disease: numerous studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a significantly lower risk (up to 67%) of acquiring type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.
  7. Supports the release of “happiness hormones”: don’t underestimate the social benefits of coffee. People tend to drink coffee with friends and family or at a local coffee shop with a comfy and relaxed atmosphere. At a local coffee shop some type of social interaction is often unavoidable. In fact, in Germany there is a strong association of social contact with coffee drinking in the tradition of “Kaffeeklatsch” -- an informal social gathering for coffee and conversation.

The other side of the coin

It’s not only good news when it come to that daily cup of java. Too much of a good thing, isn’t actually good. People who drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day, run the risk of becoming addicted and desensitized to the health benefits of coffee. Also, the tannins in coffee may lead to your teeth becoming yellow or discolored.

Remember to drink wisely (and without too much sugar or artificial sweeteners!). Maybe consider the benefits of filtered coffee and reduce your intake of decaffeinated brews which are repeatedly rinsed with chemical solvents. Go ahead and “wake up and smell the coffee!”

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