Already think the benefits of coffee are endless? Well they pretty much are: It can even strengthen your DNA. A small 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found drinking coffee regularly significantly reduced the oxidative damage in the body’s white blood cells, which can hurt your DNA. Instead, the coffee—dark roast, in this case!—helped keep the DNA strong.
In the Hungry For Change Book we discuss the addictive nature of caffeine and when consumed in large quantities, can lead to adrenal fatigue. Coffee is also a diuretic, meaning it purges water from your body. That said, if you want to function at a high level and remain well hydrated, then it would be a better choice to replace coffee with a natural alternative. The list below provides some great tasting substitutes.
If drinking a cup or two of coffee tends to make you feel good mentally, there’s a reason for that: A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry found drinking coffee actually acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. After examining 44,000 men and 74,000 women, they found a few cups of brew reduced the risk of suicide by 50 percent.
How it works: Scientists believe that coffee may be beneficial in keeping diabetes at bay in several ways: (1) by helping the body use insulin and protecting insulin-producing cells, enabling effective regulation of blood sugar; (2) preventing tissue damage; and (3) and battling inflammation, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes. One component of coffee known as caffeic acid has been found to be particularly significant in reducing the toxic accumulation of abnormal protein deposits (amyloid fibrils) found in people with type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee is thought to be as beneficial, or more so, than regular.
Although this latest news about the potential health benefits of coffee involves just a single animal study, tea drinkers might well feel they are coming out on the wrong end of the coffee equation. According to the National Coffee Association, 64 percent of Americans 18 and over drink at least one cup of coffee a day, with an average daily consumption of 3.2 cups. Three cups of a typical breakfast tea contain less than 150 milligrams of caffeine, compared with the nearly 500 milligrams in the same amount of brewed coffee. So tea drinkers might wonder if they are missing out on a potential health benefit and should start drinking the other stuff.
Studies on coffee consumption patterns of both genders indicate that regular coffee drinking lowers the danger of developing gout. Another separate study analysed the health behaviours of almost 90,000 female nurses across 26 years. Far from what most of them expected, a positive correlation between decreased threat for gout and long-term coffee consumption was noted.
A morning cup of coffee can be a great thing. Coffee consumption has been linked to longer life, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and lowered risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, and it’s also a wonderful source of antioxidants, But all these health benefits can be canceled out if you’re loading your latte with tons of cream, sugar, and chemical-filled syrups.
While many of us start the day with a big cup of coffee, you actually may be lowering your energy levels by doing this. How is this possible? Well, quite simply, your body releases insulin in response to the caffeine found within coffee. This, in turn, causes a major drop in blood sugar, which leaves you feeling depleted and tired. Not a great way to start your day. Munch on a small snack during your morning cup, or even eat right before you drink. Your body will thank you for it.
Some curious minds wanted to know exactly who was protected. And why? How? These studies showed that in people with Type 2 diabetes coffee intake was correlated with insulin spikes and increased blood sugar after a meal. Further research has shown that the caffeine in coffee might be the culprit responsible for the secretion of higher levels of insulin from the pancreas.
Although it was once believed that coffee was potentially a carcinogen, more recent studies have found that it may help lower the risk for a variety of cancers, not just skin cancer. The risk of both liver and prostate cancer may be reduced. For example, according to researchers, coffee drinkers were 40 to 50 percent less likely to develop liver cancer than individuals who did not. Other cancers that may be less likely when you drink coffee include oral, uterine, colon, and rectal cancer.
In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline, but found no association.
For a long time, research showed drinking coffee was associated with a higher risk of conditions like heart disease. Later, scientists identified a problem with many of the studies: they didn’t control for other behaviors. Coffee drinkers, it turns out, are also more likely to smoke, drink, and be inactive, all behaviors that raise the risk of many chronic diseases.
Joseph Bennington-Castro is a Hawaii-based contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He holds a master's degree in science journalism from New York University, and a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Hawaii. His work covers all areas of science, from the quirky mating behaviors of different animals, to the drug and alcohol habits of ancient cultures, to new advances in solar cell technology. On a more personal note, Joseph has had a near-obsession with video games for as long as he can remember, and is probably playing a game at this very moment.
You might think that since we boil water to brew coffee, you don’t have to worry whether it’s filtered. But Swinney says filtered water is a smart choice, if not for taste, but for health. “Filtered water ensures there are not any unwanted heavy metals like lead or copper, that might be found in old pipes. Tap water also contain many chlorine disinfection byproducts which can be harmful long term,” she says. “You should also avoid using well water unless it’s been tested for contaminants.”
In the 1980s and 1990s several prospective cohort studies were done to investigate the correlation between coffee and diabetes. Many of those studies reported that there is an inverse dose-dependent association with the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This means that for reasons still unclear, all those research studies found that the more coffee people with normal blood sugar drank, the less risk appeared for developing Type 2 diabetes. Several constituents in coffee might be responsible for these consistent findings.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption — up to about 500 mg, or about five cups per day — doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.
Hepatocellular cancer—which predominantly occurs in those who have chronic liver disease— is the most common form of liver cancer, and coffee can help reduce the risk of developing it. A 2017 study published in BMJ found it could be possible to see a 20 percent reduced risk by drinking one cup a day, 35 percent by drinking two, and 50 percent with five because of caffeine’s ability to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.
There are more than 1,000 compounds in coffee, many of which likely harbor anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds, according to a recent BMJ research review. “The coffee bean itself has antioxidants in it, which help prevent free radical damage that could potentially lead to cancer,” explains Susan Oh, MPH, director of the nutrition research program at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved with the study.
Caffeine affects every person differently, so if you experience any negative side effects, consider cutting your coffee consumption accordingly. It takes about six hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, so limit coffee drinking to early in the day, or switch to decaf, which only contains about 2 to 12 mg of caffeine per eight ounces. Always taper your coffee consumption gradually. Avoid quitting coffee cold turkey; doing so can lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms that may include severe headache, muscle aches and fatigue which can last for days.
If you lust after those frothy frozen coffee drinks at your local coffee shop, then this mochaccino recipe is for you. This easy homemade version uses low-fat milk, cocoa powder, coffee and just a little bit of maple syrup, so it has a fraction of the calories of a traditional version. (A small mocha frappuccino at Starbucks is 270 calories!) Coffee ice cubes, made by freezing coffee in an ice cube tray, make this drink frosty and give it a big, strong coffee flavor. Recipe by Joyce Hendley for EatingWell.
Associative addictions trend with coffee -- who doesn't immediately think of warm, frothy sweet cream and sugar when they picture coffee? Surely the business of coffee has inspired a culture addicted to the sugary, fatty tastes of what has become more of a meal than a drink! That morning latte is the epitome of food lacking nutrition density yet packing energy!
If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
Don’t feel bad about those days you drink a little too much coffee: A 2016 study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry found drinking a high consumption—we’re talking more than four a day—can help reduce your risk of multiple sclerosis, a disease that causes the immune system to attack the protective covering of the nerves in the brain, spine, and eyes. And not just a little—by 31 percent.
In 2013, the journal Epidemiology and Prevention published a review of studies analyzing the correlation between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease. Data from 36 different studies showed that people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drink no coffee or more than five cups per day.
If you don’t like coffee, there is no current recommendation to drink it anyway. However, if we can figure out why coffee might have health benefits, it’s possible that a medication can be developed that provides those benefits without the side effects (or taste) of coffee or caffeine. Or, faced with a choice of a new medication or coffee, one might choose the latter.
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Independent studies on the coffee consumption patterns of men and women suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces the risk of developing gout. Researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study analyzed the health habits of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found a positive correlation between long-term coffee consumption and a decreased risk for gout. The benefit was associated with both regular and decaf consumption: women who drank more than four cups of regular coffee daily had a 57 percent decreased risk of gout; gout risk decreased 22 percent in women who drank between one and three cups daily; and one cup of decaf per day was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of gout when compared to the women who didn’t drink coffee at all. Similar findings have been documented for men: another large-scale study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of gout by 40 percent, and that those who consumed six cups or more lowered gout risk by 60 percent.
In fact, according to a 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the human diet—yes, even over wine and tea. Aside from the caffeine giving you an early-morning energy buzz, those high levels of antioxidants can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals, as well as fight off disease. If you’re a big coffee lover, make sure to check The 15 Best Coffee Makers On The Planet.
Here’s why: Adding a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa (we’re talking the fermented seeds from the cacao tree) offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that can help your body by lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol, and helping to manage type 2 diabetes. Think a homemade mocha with zero added sugar, although we think a little drizzle of maple syrup would be good in this too.
More recent research has shown the opposite. Drinking coffee is now associated with a lower risk of diabetes, stroke, and cognitive issues like depression. One reason may be that coffee is rich in powerful antioxidants, and researchers now think it’s particularly good at reducing inflammation. One recent study showed older people who consumed more caffeine showed much lower levels of inflammation than those who didn’t. Another recent large study of over 200,000 people found coffee drinkers may live longer.
If your focus is weight loss, green coffee extract could be an effective aid. Following a 22-week study of 16 overweight adults, researchers discovered participants given green coffee bean extract had undergone significant weight loss with 37.5% of them transitioning from being at a pre-obesity weight to a normal weight range. If you’re battling the bulge, consider complementing your workouts by looking at the green bean capsule aisle of your local health nutrition store.
In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have cited coffee as a major — and in some cases, the primary — dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.