Coffee isn’t just warm and energizing, it may also be extremely good for you. In recent years and decades, scientists have studied the effects of coffee on various aspects of health and their results have been nothing short of amazing. Here are 7 reasons why coffee may actually be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
1. Coffee Can Make You Smarter
Coffee doesn’t just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine’s primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function.
Caffeine potently blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, leading to a net stimulant effect. Controlled trials show that caffeine improves both mood and brain function.
2. Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat and Improves Physical Performance
There’s a good reason why you will find caffeine in most commercial fat burning supplements. Caffeine, partly due to its stimulant effect on the central nervous system, both raises metabolism and increases the oxidation of fatty acids. Caffeine can also improve athletic performance by several mechanisms, including by mobilizing fatty acids from the fat tissues. In two separate meta-analyses, caffeine was found to increase exercise performance by 11-12% on average.
Caffeine raises the metabolic rate and helps to mobilize fatty acids from the fat tissues. It can also enhance physical performance.
3. Coffee May Drastically Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes is a lifestyle-related disease that has reached epidemic proportions, having increased 10-fold in a few decades and now afflicting about 300 million people. This disease is characterized by high blood glucose levels due to insulin resistance or an inability to produce insulin. In observational studies, coffee has been repeatedly associated with a lower risk of diabetes. The reduction in risk ranges from 23% all the way up to 67%. A massive review article looked at 18 studies with a total of 457.922 participants. Each additional cup of coffee per day lowered the risk of diabetes by 7%. The more coffee people drank, the lower their risk.
Drinking coffee is associated with a drastically reduced risk of type II diabetes. People who drink several cups per day are the least likely to become diabetic.
4. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Not only can coffee make you smarter in the short term, it may also protect your brain in old age. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disorder in the world and a leading cause of dementia. In prospective studies, coffee drinkers have up to a 60% lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, characterized by death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Coffee may lower the risk of Parkinson’s by 32-60%.
Coffee is associated with a much lower risk of dementia and the neurodegenerative disorders Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
5. Coffee May be Extremely Good For Your Liver
The liver is a remarkable organ that carries out hundreds of vital functions in the body. It is very vulnerable to modern insults such as excess consumption of alcohol and fructose. Cirrhosis is the end stage of liver damage caused by diseases like alcoholism and hepatitis, where liver tissue has been largely replaced by scar tissue. Multiple studies have shown that coffee can lower the risk of cirrhosis by as much as 80%, the strongest effect for those who drank 4 or more cups per day. Coffee may also lower the risk of liver cancer by around 40%.
Coffee appears to be protective against certain liver disorders, lowering the risk of liver cancer by 40% and cirrhosis by as much as 80%.
6. Coffee May Decrease Your Risk of Premature Death
Many people still seem to think that coffee is unhealthy. This isn’t surprising though, since it is very common for conventional wisdom to be at exact odds with what the actual studies say. In two very large prospective epidemiological studies, drinking coffee was associated with a lower risk of death by all causes. This effect is particularly profound in type II diabetics, one study showing that coffee drinkers had a 30% lower risk of death during a 20 year period.
Coffee consumption has been associated with a lower risk of death in prospective epidemiological studies, especially in type II diabetics.
7. Coffee is Loaded With Nutrients and Antioxidants
Coffee isn’t just black water. Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it into the final drink, which actually contains a decent amount of vitamins and minerals. A cup of coffee contains:
- 6% of the RDA for Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5).
- 11% of the RDA for Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).
- 2% of the RDA for Niacin (B3) and Thiamine (B1).
- 3% of the RDA for Potassium and Manganese.
May not seem like much, but if you drink several cups of coffee per day then this quickly adds up. But this isn’t all. Coffee also contains a massive amount of antioxidants. In fact, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined.
Coffee contains a decent amount of several vitamins and minerals. It is also the biggest source of antioxidants in the modern diet.
The type of coffee you order may reveal more about your personality than you think.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Ramani Durvasula recently conducted an observational study of 1,000 coffee drinkers. The survey assessed numerous common personality styles and psychological traits including introversion and extraversion; patience; perfectionism; warmth; vigilance; sensitivity; and social boldness, among others.
What did the survey reveal about different coffee drinkers’ personalities?
In the survey, which is described in Dr. Durvasula’s book entitled You Are WHY You Eat: Change Your Food Attitude, Change Your Life, people were given common scenarios that we all find ourselves in: how we approach waiting in long lines, how we plan dinner parties or what our typical weekends look like. Participants were asked to choose from a series of approaches to these scenarios. The survey also asked if they drink coffee and what they typically ordered. The results were not that surprising.
Take a look at this coffee summary that was compiled from his book, and see where you might fall: At the same time, while the results are interesting and perhaps spot on to some degree, don’t take the results to heart, as some people may fall in between, and certain personality types might not jive with how one drinks their coffee on a daily basis.
|Drink||Personality Traits||The Light Side||The Dark Side|
|Latte drinkers (folks who add milk/cream and sugar)||
|Frozen/ blended coffee drinks||
|Decaf/ soy milk/ Very specifically ordered coffee||
Research found that the black coffee drinkers were straight up, straightforward and no-nonsense individuals. The double decaf, soy, extra-foamy folks tended to be more obsessive, controlling, and detail-oriented. The latte drinkers tended more toward neurotic and people-pleasing, while the instant coffee drinkers had a greater likelihood of being procrastinators. Finally, those individuals who order sweet drinks were the overgrown kids who retained the taste buds and sensibilities of children, while being young at heart.
As Dr. Durvasula notes, despite the interesting and impressive qualitative research that was gathered “we are no more defined by our coffee orders than we are by our astrological signs.” It is quite possible you may be a controlling latte drinker or a Type A black coffee drinker. If people were so easy to pigeonhole, life would not only be boring, but less complicated and challenging as well.
In a larger sense, though, the choices we make in life often speak volumes about us. Sometimes we make “choices” without thinking like robots. Sometimes our choices in life essentially shape who we are for better or worse. People pleasers, who may try to manage the bitterness of coffee with a little milk, may also try to please others, which can be dangerous if one is always selfless and unassertive when communicating their needs, wants and desires.
Our personalities influence all spheres of our lives — our relationships, our jobs, our perceptions, our attitudes — and obviously will influence our choices. Some people are afraid of making the wrong choice, so in the interim feel safer choosing inaction, which speaks louder than any potential decision rendered.
And sometimes our personalities can make change harder. While some people with certain personality styles (e.g. those higher in openness) may embrace new things and new paths, others do not, and that can make instituting health changes, or any change, more challenging. As a result, a person may end up wanting to quit rather than taking a moment to see the connection between her personality and her choices. It may require mindfulness to push through certain personality styles, but armed with that knowledge, it may help any of us feel in better command of any behavior changes.
The book addresses the concept of choice and how it is influenced by multiple factors: biology, other people, fear and temperament (or personality). Our choices can sometimes feel less like choices and more like something that happens to us. Does that mean personality is destiny? Not at all, according to the author. In fact, “the very definition of resilience is your ability to jump out of type when needed.”
So stretch out your psyche from time to time, and become a little less resistant to change. Perhaps a great, albeit small, place to start is changing up your usual order next time you go out for coffee. Or, the next time you are in the driver’s seat, don’t be so quick to fire up your GPS.
Learn to let go, relax, and get lost sometimes. It is mentally healthy to break out of our rut and routine at times. Although research shows a semblance of routine keeps us balanced and sane, sometimes it’s nice to veer off the road and order your unusual cup of joe.