I am a proud, card-carrying coffee lover. I drink it all the time, often for the caffeine kick but also because I have just grown to love and appreciate the flavor.
Not everyone is with me in the coffee-worshipping department. Most people go back and forth on whether coffee is healthy and if it should be part of their daily diet. The debate is fierce on this topic and it is difficult to know what the facts are. I’m pretty passionate about coffee and have researched it extensively, so I decided to make a comprehensive list of all the benefits of drinking it.
RELATED: 15 Health Benefits of The Black Brew
I have thoroughly researched all of the health benefits and implications of drinking coffee. I dove into tons of scientific studies to sort out fact from fiction. Every benefit is backed up by a scientific study.
In this article, I’m NOT talking about those fifty syrup pump venti frappuchinos from Starbucks. I’m talking black, unaltered, pure coffee or espresso. What you do after the coffee is brewed and before it touches your lips is your own prerogative.
Given all of the amazing benefits I discovered, I honestly think coffee should be classified as a SUPERFOOD. Coffee is healthy, beneficial, and delicious and here’s why:
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1. It wakes you up
This is the number one reason why we drink coffee in the morning. Coffee contains caffeine, which is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter which leads to a stimulant effect.
2. It improves your focus
Caffeine is a stimulant that can also make you feel more alert and focused, so it provides you the boost that you need when feeling unfocused. A study published in the research journal, Psychopharmacology, aimed to establish that even at a low dose, coffee can keep drivers more alert and awake during prolonged highway driving. One cup of coffee with 80mg of caffeine can be enough to help drivers stay awake behind the wheel.
The study was conducted with simulated highway driving and was based on driving performance by those who drank caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks. The results showed better performance and found that sleepiness was reduced among those who drank caffeinated coffee.
So if you’re embarking on a road trip or doing some night driving, drink up before heading out!
3. It helps relieve headaches
Caffeine can also block certain receptors in your body that can cause you to have a headache or a migraine. Coffee is a key active ingredient in many headache medications (e.g., AnacinTM, CompoundTM, Darvon, ExcedrinTM, FioricetTM, MigranalTM, and MidolTM).
It’s believed to boost the effectiveness of pain relievers against headaches by 40 percent. It also helps the body absorb headache medications more quickly. Drinking coffee regularly ensures you have enough caffeine in your system to avoid having a headache or migraine.
However, coffee should be consumed in moderation. Excessive consumption could lead to dependency, resulting to decreased effectiveness in relieving headaches and migraines.
4. It makes you smarter
Coffee is currently the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Psychoactive substances have an effect on one’s mind and behavior. Some have a negative effect, while some have a positive effect. Coffee affects the brain positively.
According to a study, the caffeine in coffee can block the effects of the inhibitory neurotransmitter, adenosine, and thereby increase neuronal firing in the brain, release neurotransmitters (e.g., dopamine and norepinephrine), and improve cognitive functions.
5. It is full of essential nutrients
Coffee isn’t just a large source of caffeine. It’s packed with several other vitamins and minerals you need daily to remain healthy. A single cup of coffee contains these essential nutrients:
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA
- Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA
- Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA
Thus, drinking coffee will give you a boost in some essential nutrients.
6. It is a large source of antioxidants
Antioxidants are natural occurring substances that can help you avoid or delay damage to your cells. They do so by preventing free radicals from developing in your body. Drinking it on a regular basis provides a large boost in antioxidants to fight off free radicals. Indeed, it is rich in antioxidants. In fact, an average adult gains 1,299 mg of antioxidants a day by way of drinking coffee.
A study also shows that a relationship exists between free radicals and antioxidants when it comes to aging. Free radicals induce oxidative stress which could result to accumulating damage during our life cycle. Antioxidants provides protection against these free radicals which will prevent premature aging.
7. It improves good cholesterol
The antioxidants in coffee can also improve total cholesterol. It raises the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in your body. This “good” cholesterol can help you avoid suffering from cardiovascular disease. It also can remove the “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol from your body.
A study was conducted by the researchers at the University of Minnesota Medical School (UMMS) and the School of Public Health. They found that antioxidants contain an enzyme called glutathione peroxidase, or GPx3, which has critical benefits to those who have low HDL cholesterol. They found out that “people with high levels of the GPx3 enzyme and low levels of good cholesterol were six times less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than people with low levels of both”. As we know, it is a huge source of antioxidants.
8. It reduces inflammation
Inflammation wrecks havoc on the body and can cause you to feel chronically ill and can lead to serious heart disease, luckily it is great at reducing inflammation.
A clinical study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition gathered 47 volunteers in order to examine the claims on this drink reducing inflammation on the body and increasing HDL levels. The results show that drinking 8 cups daily could improve HDL cholesterol levels of the people who drank by 7 percent and reduce blood levels associated with chronic inflammation by as much as 16% compared to those who had no coffee at all.
The antioxidants in coffee can also lower inflammation which can be a factor that causes heart disease. Free radicals are one of the causes of inflammation. Since antioxidants prevent free radicals from developing in your body, they also decrease your risk of developing an inflammation related to heart disease.
9. It is one of the lowest calorie drinks
If you’re trying to lose weight, or you’re doing your best to maintain your current weight, coffee is a good choice. A single cup of about 8oz. brewed, only has 2 calories and it has no fat. Unless you decide to go all Starbucks frappuccino on it.
This is only applies to it when brewed black. When you start adding sugar, cream and milk to coffee, that’s when it starts becoming unhealthy and has a huge jump in calorie count. According to Harvard, a tablespoon of cream, sugar and whole milk contains 52 calories, 48 calories and 9 calories respectively. While 9 calories may seem small, we usually pour a lot of milk without actually measuring it, so you may be getting several servings. Every time you add these extras, you’re pretty much adding over 100 extra calories to your daily cup.
Ditch the cream and sugar and go for the lower calorie options if you’re going to be adding it to your coffee.
10. It raises your metabolic rate and burns more fat
The caffeine in it can stimulate your body to burn more fat than usual for a brief period of time. It does so by boosting your metabolic rate by between 3 and 11 percent. Your metabolic rate is basically the rate at which you expend energy. The fat stored in your body is a potent energy reserve. You can burn more fat when your metabolic rate is high and drinking coffee regularly helps consistently raise your metabolic rate.
An experiment was conducted that showed people who were given caffeine 30 minutes before the experiment had higher sweat gland density and more fatty acids compared to those who had non-caffeine drink. In summary, caffeine increases activated sweat gland density (ASGD) and free fatty acids (FFA) by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing lipolysis.
It will help you burn fat faster, but pairing a cup of coffee with exercise will make this even more effective.
Head over to Expresso Perfector for the full list.