One of the world’s most popular beverages, coffee happens to be quite healthy too. There’s a bunch of reasons to drink it – mostly because it’s delicious, of course. But while other delicious things tend to leave you feeling guilty for indulging, coffee provides a net improvement in our lives. What did we do to deserve such a blessing?!
Through its high levels of antioxidants, important nutrients, and lack of harmful stuff, it’s a winner in the health stakes.
Here’s a few of the reasons coffee is good for your health and wellbeing.
Coffee is absolutely packed with antioxidants.
These are chemical compounds, minerals and other nutrients which deactivate free radicals before they attack cells. Free radicals, as cool as they sound, are not good – they’re pairs of electrons which damage cells, proteins and DNA in the body. This damage is associated with diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, and others – antioxidants fight against them to prevent such damage.
There are thousands of different types of antioxidant – compounds such as resveratrol (which is found in wine) and lycopene (in tomatoes) are two good examples. Vitamins A, C and E count as antioxidants, too.
Your body does create some of them itself, but having them supplied in the diet gives you a big advantage. You wouldn’t say for certain they will definitely prevent cancer, but studies have shown they do reduce the risk of it occurring – which sounds like a good excuse to get a brew going.
Many people actually get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables.
Fat-burning and weight loss
Let’s make something clear from the start: a white chocolate mocha with whipped cream, sprinkles and 5 packs of brown sugar isn’t going to help anyone on their weight loss journey. So not all coffee drinks can help in this arena, but coffee itself can play an important part in weight loss, if that’s your aim.
If you’ve ever gone shopping for fat-burning supplements (which you should be careful doing – only shop from a reputable source!) you’ll have noticed they almost all contain caffeine. This stimulant can boost your metabolic rate by 3 – 11%.
This means you burn energy quicker than usual and less gets stored as fat.
The downside here is if you overdo it, you might get jittery and anxious, and feel unwell.
It’s not something to rely on (whether in pills or espressos) – healthy diet, regular exercise and advice from medical professionals are the safest ways to do it. But a daily cuppa alongside those will provide a guilt-free boost to your efforts.
A single cup of brewed coffee contains a fine amount of essential nutrients that help your body operate optimally:
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) – helps build red blood cells, supports energy functions
- Vitamin B3 (niacin) – balances cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation, promotes healthy brain function
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) – helps convert food into energy, good for healthy skin, hair & eyes
- Potassium – reduces blood pressure, conducts signals through the body
- Magnesium – creates energy & proteins, maintains DNA, regulates stress
These are between 2 and 10% of your RDA (recommended daily allowance), so for those enjoying a few cups each day, that’s a significant portion of your needs covered!
Energy and athletic performance
One of the reasons we love coffee so much is that it gives us energy (or at least the feeling of having more energy).
The caffeine in coffee is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. It works to block the neurotransmitter adenosine (a chemical messenger) from firing in your brain, allowing others to work their magic instead (eg. norepinephrine and dopamine).
This means that coffee can improve energy levels, mood, reaction times, and general brain functions. Plus the buzz feels fantastic. (Don’t overdo it though – maybe switch to decaf once you’re starting to feel really buzzy.)
Those benefits also translate to athletic performance, which is why you’ll also see caffeine in some sports drinks. It stimulates the nervous system, and causes the release of adrenaline, preparing the body for physical exertion. It’s universally known to improve athletic performance in many areas, so a cup of coffee half an hour before a workout can really help with those gym gains – as long as you stay hydrated.
Drink coffee for a longer, happier life
Amongst those brilliant benefits, it might just help you feel happier.
We’d argue that a finely brewed Ethiopian morning roast can brighten anyone’s day, and it seems the science agrees.
One study even showed that people who drank 4 or more cups per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.
And it can possibly extend your life, too. There’s been a range of studies done on coffee and health, and there are definite links between coffee drinking and longer lifespans. While it can’t quite be proven yet, there’s no harm in having a few cups a day just to be sure, right?