Author: Maria Kuzmiak, Wellness Writer
When you think of super foods and health foods, coffee is probably not the first thing that comes to mind, but the truth is that coffee appears to have many health benefits. The beverage we know as coffee is made by roasting the seeds inside the beans of the coffee plant. People have been drinking this beverage for hundreds of years. It’s believed that coffee was first cultivated in the Middle East and that its use spread westward through Italy and Europe. The British brought coffee to America in the 1600s.
Today, more than 100 million Americans drink an average of approximately 3 cups of coffee each day. The health benefits of coffee have been debated for decades, but in recent years more and more evidence suggests that consuming not just one but several cups daily might be a healthy habit after all. Here’s why:
Coffee drinking is linked with a lower risk of developing diabetes.
Researchers at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China have identified three compounds in coffee that appear to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. It appears that these substances block a protein linked to developing the disease. The Chinese study was performed to investigate previous research that showed a 50% lower incidence of diabetes among people who drank four or more cups of coffee per day.
People who drink coffee are less depressed.
A study conducted at Harvard School of Public Health found a lower incidence of depression among coffee drinkers. In this study, the mood-elevating effects were found with the consumption of as few as two cups per day.
Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants.
In fact, according to a report by CNN, Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from any other source. Among the many powerful antioxidants in coffee are polyphenols and flavonoids, the same chemicals that make fruits and vegetables so healthy. Another important antioxidant in coffee is chlorogenic acid, which appears to help detoxify the body.
Coffee may be good for the liver.
Japanese researchers looked into the connection between coffee and liver cancer and found that people who drank coffee every day had about half the rate of at least one type of liver cancer as those who did not drink it. In addition, a study conducted at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center suggested that people who drank alcohol had a 22% lower incidence of cirrhosis of the liver from the alcohol if they also drank coffee daily.
Coffee may counter several risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The first connection between lower rates of cardiovascular disease and coffee consumption is due to the lower risk for diabetes among those who consume coffee. That’s because diabetics are more likely to have cardiovascular disease than the general population. Another study showed that coffee drinkers were less likely to have heart arrhythmias, and according to the results of the well-known Nurses’ Health Study, women who drink two or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of stroke than those who did not drink coffee.
Coffee may lower the risk for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
It’s been known for a while that coffee drinkers have lower rates of Parkinson’s disease, and now it appears that the same may be the case for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. A study conducted in Finland and Sweden found that subjects who drank 3-5 cups of coffee per day over a period of 20 years were 65% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia than those who drank little or no coffee.
It tastes good.
Perhaps the best reason to drink coffee is that it’s one of life’s simple pleasures. For coffee drinkers, coffee is not only a tasty pick-me-up, but it’s often a good excuse to socialize as well. Coffeehouses have obviously picked up on this since cream and sugar are not the only options available anymore when ordering your favorite version of this popular drink.