Every morning, my day begins with a piping hot cup of coffee made in my Nespresso machine. I don’t have too many vices, but coffee and a nice glass of red wine (or two) definitely treat me well. At work and school, acquaintances have excitedly gone caffeine clean, pushing me to join them on their courageous pursuit.
There have been times I’ve abandoned my morning coffee or mid-afternoon latte in pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. But each time I give up caffeine (even after the caffeine headaches subside), I don’t gain anything, which makes me think: Coffee is the most popular, most consumed drug in the world. Maybe coffee is good for us.
I’m going to stand up for my long-trusted, helpful cup of Joe by sharing some of its biggest health benefits.
1. Focused and Alert
Perhaps, the most obvious and noticeable benefit of drinking coffee is its ability to make us alert and focused. As you know, coffee contains the mild stimulant caffeine. Caffeine blocks the sleep-inducing neurotransmitter, adenosine. Caffeine’s trusty shield increases other neurotransmitters like dopamine (the feel-good chemical) and norepinephrine (the stress hormone), allowing us to better focus, remember, and increase overall energy. There have been many occasions where I have been more than thankful for the lack of adenosine in my system. The immediate neurological benefits of coffee are fantastic but the long-term benefits may be even more impressive.
2. Dementia and Alzheimer’s Protective
It takes coffee about 15 minutes to enter the bloodstream before a person begins to feel more awake and alert, but researchers are finding that coffee may benefit our nervous system long-term. Three out of five studies support the notion that coffee may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. The CAIDE (Cardiovascular Risk Factors, Aging, and Incidence of Dementia) Dementia Risk Score shows that middle age people who drink three to five cups of coffee a day are nearly 65 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s in late life. Researchers believe coffee’s caffeine, antioxidants, and increased insulin sensitivity helps deter dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Curbs Appetite
Caffeine has the potential to boost our metabolism by 3 percent to 11 percent while improving exercise performance by 11 percent to 12 percent, according to a study in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports. Using coffee to curb our appetite can be a healthy way to kill cravings, especially when we’re not actually hungry (as always, yay mindful eating!).
4. Nutrient and Antioxidant Rich
There are a surprising number of nutrients in a single cup of coffee. One mug of black coffee contains magnesium, niacin, manganese, potassium, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. For many people, drinking coffee comes second nature, making it an exceptionally easy way to obtain nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants.
Many people forgo caffeine altogether, claiming it causes insomnia or even anxiety. In fact, more than five cups of coffee a day is likely poor for our health. Luckily, (like many things) caffeine in moderation has the potential to benefit our bodies. For me, an avid coffee drinker, I am happy to know there are benefits to consuming one of my favorite beverages.
Does coffee provide a helpful mid-morning boost or does it make you feel stressed? —Alex