If you’re anything like us, the smell of fresh coffee alone is enough to make you do a happy dance. After all, what’s not to love? The delicious taste, the comforting feel of a warm mug in your hands, the rich aroma, and of course, the energy it gives you to tackle the day.
There’s a lot of conflicting information about coffee, but if you are a regular coffee drinker, you may have heard it can stain your teeth, make you jittery, and keep you up at night.
However, moderate coffee intake (1-3 cups a day) has been shown again and again to have numerous science-backed health benefits, including a decreased risk of many serious diseases.
In this article, we’ll explore how you can make sure your coffee is good for you (and not laden with excess sugar) and the 15 top health benefits of coffee. We’ll drink to that!
Tips To Make Sure Your Coffee Is Helping, Not Hurting Your Health
Coffee affects everyone differently, but overall there are a few things to consider to make sure your coffee is keeping you healthy and not doing you harm.
Look out for extra sugar or fat. Cream, high-fat milk, sugars, syrups, and other extras at the coffee shop can add significant calories. If you order a latte, order it non-fat. Skip the flavored syrups, and pass on the whipped cream, which can add a whopping 100 extra calories to your beverage.
Keep your caffeine intake moderate. 1 to 3 cups of coffee daily is considered moderate, but caffeine affects everyone very differently. If you’re prone to anxiety or if too much coffee hurts your stomach, cut back.
Try to limit coffee after noon if it disrupts your sleep. Pay attention to your body and what works for you. If drinking coffee in the late afternoon keeps you up at night, don’t do it!
15 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Coffee
1. Coffee is Full of Antioxidants
Coffee is chock-full of antioxidants. Some studies argue that coffee contains more antioxidants than fruits and veggies. Two major antioxidants found in coffee, called, polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids are particularly adept at combating free radicals, which can cause cellular damage that leads to disease. So drink up to keep your cells healthy and free radicals at bay!
2. Decreased Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition that occurs when your body either doesn’t produce enough insulin or it resists insulin. Numerous studies point to a decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes with daily coffee consumption. One Harvard study even found that a person’s risk for Type 2 Diabetes decreased by 9% with every daily cup of coffee they consumed.
3. Coffee Helps You Burn More Fat
That morning cup of coffee may have added benefits for your waistline, too (as long as you’re skipping the whip!) Your metabolic rate is how many calories you burn at rest, and it’s an important factor in maintaining a healthy weight. Studies show that caffeine can increase your metabolic rate by 3-11%, helping you burn a little more fat on a daily basis.
4. Lowered Risk of Parkinson’s
Daily coffee consumption can also help reduce or delay the development of Parkinson’s Disease. It’s believed that the caffeine in coffee can help control movement or motor symptoms for those already suffering from PD as well.
5. Coffee Wards Off Depression
Numerous studies have shown that moderate coffee intake (1-3 cups per day) leads to a reduced risk of depression. Coffee’s mood-enhancing effects can be particularly beneficial for women. A 2011 study in Archives of Internal Medicine followed 50,000 women over several decades. They found that women who drank 2-3 cups of coffee per day were 15% less likely to develop depression than their non-coffee-drinking counterparts. Researchers believe coffee’s high antioxidant content plays a role in this mood-enhancing benefit.
6. Decreased Risk of Certain Cancers
Because of coffee’s extremely high antioxidant content, it’s also thought to prevent certain cancers. The World Health Organization declared that moderate coffee consumption has been specifically linked with a decreased risk of uterine and liver cancers.
7. Decreased Risk of MS
In a study from The Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, & Psychiatry, researchers found that at least 4 cups of coffee per day may lower your risk for MS, and even prevent the reoccurrence of MS. Researchers believe coffee helps calm the neural inflammation responsible for MS.
8. Coffee Helps Prevent Alzheimer’s
Coffee consumption over many years has been linked to a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease. The substance trigonelline found in coffee contains neuroprotective properties, and consuming 2-3 cups of coffee per day can significantly lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
9. Coffee Improves Your Workouts
Research suggests that caffeine intake prior to a workout helps improve your performance and train longer and harder. One study in particular, published in the British Journal of Sports Science, found that people who drank coffee before running on the treadmill ended up running 4.2 seconds faster than the control group.
10. Helps Protect your Liver
Another reason to feel good about your morning cup? Coffee drinkers have a decreased risk of cirrhosis of the liver, and scarring of the liver, which can lead to liver failure in some cases. Drinking just 2 cups per day has been shown to reduce the risk of cirrhosis by as much as 43%.
11. Reduced Stroke Risk
Did you know that up to 15 million people a year suffer a stroke? Or that it’s the leading cause of disability after dementia? Reducing your risk of stroke includes taking several steps, one of them being to quit smoking if you currently do. But it also turns out that your daily cup of coffee can cut your risk of stroke. Data from several studies have suggested that drinking at least 2 cups of coffee a day can decrease your risk of stroke by up to 14% when compared to not drinking any coffee at all.
12. Prevents Retinal Damage
A study from the University of Cornell found that an antioxidant in coffee can help prevent retinal damage from aging or glaucoma. The antioxidant is called chlorogenic acid, or CLA for short, and it helps reduce oxidative stress on the retinas, which occurs because it is a thin tissue layer that requires high levels of oxygen. Still, too much oxidative stress causes poor eyesight, retinal degeneration, and vision loss.
13. Helps You Stay Focused and Alert
The reason most of us reach for that morning coffee in the first place is probably to wake up! Caffeine significantly improves your mental alertness by stimulating the central nervous system. It specifically affects the areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration.
14. Treats Migraine Headaches
Caffeine is actually a main ingredient in many pain-relieving medications, so it isn’t surprising that for some people, treating their migraine with a strong cup of coffee does the trick. However, everyone’s body responds to caffeine differently, and different headaches respond to different treatments. Studies have shown that if you are not a regular coffee drinker, a strong cup of coffee can relieve a headache better than if you drink it every day, potentially because your body is more used to its effects.
15. Coffee Increases Your Longevity
For all the controversy over coffee, the decreased risk of so many physical diseases and the mental benefits have us delighted that we can continue to enjoy our coffee addiction…er, we mean habit. Of course, consuming coffee in moderation is different than attempting to clean Starbucks out every day—and as we’ve discussed, excess sugar or artificial flavoring in your coffee won’t keep you healthy.
But good old-fashioned coffee—black or with some natural creamer or almond milk—can help you live longer. Several studies suggest that you can decrease your risk of dying from the disease by up to 24% with a regular coffee habit.
So drink up (in moderation) and have a cup or two to your health.