I love coffee as do many other Americans. According to a survey completed by the National Coffee Association, 83% of US adults drink coffee, making our country the largest coffee consumer in the world. Nearly half of adult Americans drink traditional coffee on a daily basis, and one third drink gourmet coffees regularly.
I enjoy everything about coffee: shopping for different blends, grinding the beans, prepping the coffee machine and pouring that first steaming cup. The ritual comforts me. Even my black lab enjoys the experience, sitting by my feet as we take turns sniffing the freshly ground beans. I love the sound and the aroma of brewing coffee and all but roll my eyes heavenward when I take that first sip of strong black coffee from my oversized mug. Ahhhh…the coffee experience.
It turns out there could be a scientific reason why I enjoy this ritual so much. According to a study completed by the Department of Food and Nutrition, Seoul National University, the aroma of coffee reduced stress in sleep deprived rats.(1) Further investigation needs to be completed on humans, but it certainly makes sense to me. I feel energized by the aroma almost as much as by the taste.
The health benefits of coffee have been researched worldwide. Studies demonstrate that coffee can improve health by decreasing risk for some chronic diseases, decreasing symptoms for some neurological diseases and improving brain function. How can drinking regular coffee improve health? Outlined below are benefits demonstrated from medical research.
- Type 2 Diabetes – Drinking 4 or more cups of regular or decaf coffee each day lowers risk for developing diabetes by 50% and for each additional cup, risk decreases an additional 7%. (2,3)
- Melanoma – Cutaneous melanoma is the fifth most common form of cancer. Drinking 4 cups of regular coffee daily can lower risk for malignant melanoma by 20%. (4)
- Liver Disease and Cancer – Consuming 1-3 cups of coffee daily can decrease chance of developing cirrhosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cancer. (5, 6)
- Parkinson’s Disease – The caffeine in coffee may prevent the development of Parkinson’s Disease and can help those with the disease control movement. (7)
- Stroke – Drinking 1 cup of coffee (or 4 cups of green tea) daily can decrease stroke risk by 20% (8,9)
The caffeine in coffee can improve mood, memory, cognitive function, reaction time and energy level. Moderate caffeine intake, 1-4 cups per day, decreases risk of depression in women, according to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association. (10). The caffeine in just one cup can stimulate the release of dopamine in the brain, increasing feelings of pleasure, concentration, problem-solving and memory. Extreme amounts of caffeine, however, can cause anxiety, irritability and hyperactivity.
Caffeinated coffee can provide a short-term boost to the metabolism. Caffeine increases the heart rate and energy level, burning more calories for up to 3 hours after consumption.(11) It also can increase exercise effort thereby raising the metabolism even more. Coffee has Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) that aid in the conversion of carbohydrates and fats into energy.
A word of caution: gourmet coffees may be more harmful than healthful. These drinks include high calorie additions: soy milk, whipped cream and sugar. A 16oz Pumpkin Spice Latte with whole milk and whipped cream has 48 grams of sugar and 410 calories. If you drink 2 over the course of a day, you will have consumed between 1/3 and 1/2 of your daily recommended calories!
Bottom line, drinking 1-4 cups of coffee daily can decrease risk of disease, however, be certain to avoid the high sugar/high calorie versions that can negate the effects of regular coffee.
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