You may be doing more with your regular cup of coffee with your coffee stirrers than having the early morning pick-me-up. Coffee’s health effect has been a contentious topic for a long time, with supporters venturing their antioxidant activity and brain-boosting capacity. Critics describe downsides such as insomnia, indigestion, and elevated heart rate, and blood pressure. Yet for coffee lovers, the current surge of empirical research offers a lot of good news. Below are some reasons why you might feel better to drink coffee than you thought.
- Coffee provides a potent source of safe antioxidants. In turn, coffee displays more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two superstars of antioxidants. Among unprocessed coffee beans, scientists have found about 1,000 antioxidants, and hundreds more grow during the roasting process. Multiple studies have cited coffee as a significant – and in some cases, the primary – dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.
- Caffeine provides a memory boost in the short term. Caffeine tends to affect the primary memory and focus areas of the brain, offering an increase to short-term memory, but it is not clear how long the effect lasts or how it can differ from person to person.
- Coffee will help guard against cognitive loss. Regular coffee intake can help reduce cognitive deterioration associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia and provide a temporary boost in brain function and memory. Several hypotheses exist as to how coffee can help inhibit or defend against cognitive decline. One working theory: caffeine prevents beta-amyloid plaque from building up and may lead to Alzheimer’s initiation and progression.
- Coffee makes your heart healthy. Moderate coffee drinkers (who drank between two and four cups a day) had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease than heavy or light coffee drinkers and nondrinkers. There’s some evidence that coffee can help heart safety by defending against inflammation-induced arterial damage.
- Coffee could help curb certain cancers. People who drink coffee can run a lower risk of developing aggressive cancer of the prostate. Researchers have found linkages between daily consumption of coffee and lower liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers. In many studies, polyphenols, antioxidant phytochemicals contained in coffee, have shown anticarcinogenic effects. These are thought to help minimize the inflammation that may be responsible for some tumors.
- The liver likes coffee. It’s true: coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis, particularly alcoholic cirrhosis, in addition to reducing the risk of liver cancer. There is an inverse association between increased coffee intake and a decreased risk of cirrhosis — a decrease of 20 percent for every cup consumed (up to four cups).
- Coffee can improve efficiency at exercise. Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer; it prevents tiredness and enhances muscle function, decreases the perception of pain by the exercise, and increases fatty acids in the blood, promoting stamina.