Billions of people in the world can’t start their day without a cup of coffee, but many people consider the hot beverage harmful. Although coffee is rich in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits, it’s also rich in caffeine which can cause sleeping disorders as well as other health problems.
Before we start, let’s take a look at coffee’s positive benefits. A cup of coffee (240 ml.) contains:
- Manganese: 3% of the recommended daily amount (RDA);
- Potassium: 3% of the RDA;
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 11% of the RDA;
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 2% of the RDA;
- Magnesium: 2% of the RDA;
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 2% of the RDA;
- Phosphorus: 1% of the RDA;
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid): 6% of the RDA;
- Folate: 1% of the RDA.
Of course, these amounts may seem insignificant to you, but consider how many cups of coffee you drink during the day and add them up – they constitute a great portion of your daily nutrient intake. Coffee’s most important content are its antioxidants – it contains so much that it provides more antioxidants to a person than fresh fruit and vegetables. However, coffee also contains caffeine, the most regularly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Besides being present in coffee, it can also be found in tea, soft drinks and chocolate.
A cup of coffee contains 30-300 mg. of caffeine. This substance is a powerful stimulant which can obstruct the proper function of neurotransmitters such as Adenosine in the brain and also affects the release of other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine. This prevents exhaustion and causes raised alertness, but this brain boosting function only lasts for a short time. Caffeine also provides a boost to your metabolism (3-11%), although only temporary. If you regularly drink coffee, your body will become resistant to these effects over time.
According to studies, people who consume coffee regularly have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Millions of people are affected by diabetes nowadays, but studies have shown that coffee can reduce the risk by 23-67%. One bigger study which involved 457 922 participants showed that the risk of diabetes lowers by 7% with each cup of coffee daily. For best results, experts recommend drinking 4 cups of coffee a day.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is responsible for the removal of toxins from the blood, but it is easily affected by alcohol and fructose. The final stage of liver disease is Cirrhosis and occurs when most of the organ has been replaced by scar tissue. Luckily, drinking coffee regularly can reduce the risk of this awful disease by 84%. Besides cirrhosis, coffee has shown that it can reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 40%.
Coffee is also effective against age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, which are caused by dead dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. People who drink coffee every day have 32-60% lower risk of these diseases – the more coffee they consume, the lower the risk is. Coffee has also shown that it can treat and prevent depression and people who drink coffee are also less prone to suicide.
Depression is a leading mental disorder in the world which can greatly affect the quality of life of the patient. According to a study conducted at Harvard in 2011, people who consume coffee every day have a 20% less chance of developing depression, while a review of 3 studies showed that consuming 4 or more cups of coffee daily can make you less prone to suicide by 53%.
As many studies have shown that coffee can prevent serious diseases, it’s logical that the hot beverage makes us live longer. One study which lasted for 12 years examined the daily habits of more than 400 000 subjects aged 50-71. The results showed that people who consume coffee on a daily basis have a higher chance of living longer – 4-5 cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of death by 12% in men and 16% in women.
However, coffee can also have detrimental effects on our health. Caffeine can cause anxiety and sleeping disorders, and excess amount of caffeine may result in jitters, heart palpitations and panic attacks, so you should be careful with your daily caffeine intake.
Caffeine can also affect your sleeping pattern, which is why it’s recommended not to drink coffee in the evening. It can increase your diuretic and blood pressure by 1-2 mm/Hg., and is highly addictive. Once you stop drinking coffee, your body will enter a state of withdrawal with symptoms such as headache, irritability and brain fog, which are similar to the withdrawal symptoms of most drugs.
Regular and decaf coffee
Many people prefer decaf coffee over regular and think it’s healthier, but it doesn’t have the same effects as the regular one. Decaffeinated coffee is made by rinsing coffee beans with solvent chemicals – the process is repeated until all of the caffeine dissolves in the solvent. This coffee doesn’t have any effect on neurodegenerative disorders or liver diseases, which is why there’s no point in drinking it.
Some modern types of coffee drinks are rich in calories which is why you should avoid them, as you should avoid putting anything rich in sugar in your coffee. Use a paper filter to brew your coffee as unfiltered coffee contains cafestol, a substance that increases the levels of the bad (LDL) cholesterol.
Coffee is not recommended to pregnant women or people suffering from insomnia, high blood pressure and anxiety. Some studies claim that people who metabolize coffee slowly have an increased risk of heart disease if they consume it regularly.
However, if you drink it moderately, coffee can have a positive effect on your health. Drink a couple of cups every day and you should be fine.