If you’re anything like me, the morning doesn’t start until the coffee’s ready, and you’ve had your first sip (or three).
Now I KNOW coffee is good for me. I’ve dug through the literature. And I’ve read the research.
But if the mainstream media is your primary source of information, I don’t blame you one little bit if you’re confused. Because with all the conflicting reports it’s hard to figure out if you’re helping or harming your health with that cup of joe.
And you never know whether the next news cycle will leave you feeling guilty or pleased about your morning routine.
Real world health benefits of coffee
Well I can assure you, despite what some naysayers out there may have to say, there are some real, proven health benefits of coffee.
So go ahead, grab another cup and settle in for a look at five of the most impressive.
1. Keeps you sharp:
It’s not your imagination. Coffee really does make you more focused and productive. The caffeine in coffee revs up the neurotransmitters in your brain, which boosts brain activity.
Several studies, going back as far as the 1980s, have found that caffeine improves memory, reaction time, mental alertness and overall cognitive function. And it’s not just short term brain benefits you’re getting.
Other studies, including a comprehensive meta-analysis from 2010, hint there are long-term benefits to be found at the bottom of your coffee mug too. In fact, experts say coffee drinking appears to offer some protection against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
2. Protects your liver:
Your liver is one of those organs you never really think about until there’s a problem. But a healthy liver is critical for your continued good health.
When something goes wrong with your liver, the dominos can fall quickly. But researchers say coffee can help protect this vital organ from disease and cancer.
Several studies show that coffee can reduce the risk of liver disease. And it appears it really is the coffee, and not the caffeine, doing the shielding. A study published in the Annals of Epidemiology found that other sources of caffeine weren’t as protective as coffee.
As for liver cancer, researchers out of Italy found that drinking three cups of coffee per day could lower your risk of the disease by a stunning 50 percent. If three cups is over your limit, drinking less will still slash your risk up to 40 percent. In other words, when it comes to the health benefits of coffee liver protection is always near the top of the list.
3. Fights colorectal cancer:
A major study following nearly half a million people revealed coffee can be a true life saver. Drinking four to five cups a day, reduced people’s risk of colorectal cancer by an impressive 15 percent.
And once again, the benefits appear to be tied to coffee specifically. Because while tea has a ton of health benefits of its own… including reducing the risk of several types of cancer… tea drinkers in this study didn’t see the same colorectal cancer fighting benefits.
4. Boosts heart health:
A healthy body starts with a healthy heart, and a healthy heart just might start with your coffee cup. Harvard University reports that moderate coffee drinking—two to four cups a day—can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and heart failure.
In another large study of 130,000 people, coffee drinkers were less likely to be hospitalized due to irregular heart beat than non-coffee drinkers were. And in the ground-breaking Nurses’ Health Study, volunteers who drank two cups of coffee (or more) per day had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than those who drank less.
5. Reduces diabetes risk:
Type 2 diabetes is practically an epidemic these days, but researchers from all over the world have found good old coffee could hold a key to reversing the trend.
While the studies are exploring many different angles, they’re all getting similar results. Coffee drinkers have lower rates of type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers do. One meta-analysis performed by the American Medical Association found that every extra cup of coffee we drink a day translates to a seven percent drop in our risk of diabetes.
So go ahead and keep on enjoying your morning brew, or afternoon coffee break, guilt free. If you want a splash of real creamer or whole milk in your mug, that’s perfectly fine. And if you have a sweet tooth, be sure to skip the sugar and use stevia instead. Otherwise, you’ll end up undoing all the incredible health benefits of coffee.