By: Malena Esposito
I’m going to start off by saying this:
I love coffee. Decaf or regular, morning or evening, hot or cold, bitter or sweet. Coffee is just one of those simple joys that never fails to light me up, and it’s not only because of the caffeine. Well, maybe…
But I know I’m not the only one that can proudly say that they don’t know who they’d be without their daily cup of joe, and while that might sound like an unhealthy addiction, I’m here to tell you just the opposite.
Here are some health benefits of those good ol’ grounds that help us grind through the day.
While everyone knows that coffee keeps us up and alert, not everyone knows the reason why. Coffee contains a powerful stimulant called caffeine, which, once consumed, travels through the bloodstream and into our brains. There, it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine which binds to receptors in our brains that make us sleepy. Because of this blockage, excitatory neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine increase, firing up the neurons inside of our brains.
- Fat Loss and Physical Performance
If you’ve got a few extra pounds to lose, then a cup of coffee might be exactly what you need. While the caffeine from coffee stimulates the nervous system, it also increases levels of epinephrine. Also known as adrenaline, the hormone travels through the bloodstream to the fatty tissue. Signals are then sent to break down the fat, which is then released into the blood. However, because of these newly freed fatty acids, coffee can also improve physical performance. Because this neurotransmitter is in charge of our “fight or flight” response, the increased rush of adrenaline prepares us for intense bodily strain by using body fat as fuel.
As it turns out, coffee isn’t just a magical black liquid – there are nutrients it in too. A single cup contains plenty of key vitamins needed to help the body carry out basic tasks.
|Nutrient||% of the RDA*||Function|
|Riboflavin (B2)||11||Skin, digestion, brain function|
|Pantothenic Acid (B5)||6||Uses food (carbs, proteins, and lipids) for fuel|
|Manganese & Potassium||3||Bone formation & muscle contractions|
|Magnesium & Niacin (B3)||2||Bone maintenance, digestion & skin disease|
*RDA: Recommended Daily Average
While this might not seem like a lot, these seemingly small percentages add up if you consume more than one cup of coffee per day, which many drinkers do.
- Antioxidants Galore
In case you didn’t know, our bodies are constantly under attack. Reactive molecules, aka “free radicals,” have unpaired electrons which can potentially injure the proteins and DNA in our bodies. But never fear, antioxidants are here! By donating electrons to the free radicals, antioxidants essentially disarm the biological threat. Good thing for us bean freaks, the grounds of greatness contain plenty of these life saving molecules.
|Name of Antioxidant||Benefit Received|
|Cafestol||Anti-inflammatory, improves memory|
|Trigonelline||Anti-bacterial, prevents tooth decay|
|Chlorogenic Acid||Enhances insulin function (may fight diabetes)|
|Melanoidins||Gives coffee its powerful scent|
|Caffeine||Cure headaches, reduce redness in skin|
|Quinine||Aids in the bitter taste|
However, it must also be known that the levels of toxins found in coffee vary based on the roasting process. Roasted coffee contains often more antioxidants than non-roasted, due to the fact that the cleansing properties could be captured or crushed, depending on the precise point of the roasting process.
5. Prevents Diseases
Over the past few decades, there have been a wide array of investigations conducted to analyze the impact of coffee on life-threatening diseases. Here’s a list of studies, entailing which disease they were targeting, who they were organized by and when, along with the conclusions made.
|Disease||Source||Results from Study|
|Dementia, Alzheimer’s (July 2002, Sept 2009)||Journal of Neurology, Medline, Web of Science||“Caffeine intake was associated with a significantly lower (65%)…These results may have a major impact on the prevention of AD”|
|Honolulu Heart Program||“Our findings indicate that higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of PD”|
|Kaiser Permanente Medical Program||These data support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.|
|Colorectal & Liver Cancer
|Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health||Long-term coffee consumption was not associated with an increased risk of stroke in women. In contrast, our data suggest that coffee consumption may modestly reduce risk of stroke.|
|Stroke & Heart Disease
|Division of Nutritional Epidemiology, Nat. Institute of Environmental Medicine||Findings from this meta-analysis indicate that moderate coffee consumption may be inversely associated with risk of stroke.|
Overall, coffee can be extremely beneficial to our health. By giving us an extra boost, using fat as energy, providing key nutrients and cleansing properties, and aiding in the prevention of unpredictable illnesses, we should all be sure to include an extra cup in our daily routine.