A common way to start the day is with a cup of joe on the way to work. Besides being delicious, coffee can also be pretty healthy in moderation. One of its primary ingredients is caffeine, a source of many of these potential health benefits. If anyone needed another reason—besides its taste—to reach for that next cup of coffee, here are 8 extra benefits that caffeine and coffee can provide.
- Reduced rate of heart disease
At the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2017, preliminary research was presented that suggests there may be an association between moderate coffee consumption and a decreased risk of stroke or heart failure. Namely, those involved in the study observed that, compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers seem to show a decreased risk of developing both heart failure and suffering from stroke. Other research also suggests that drinking coffee might help heart health. In 2015, a South Korean article suggested decreased the prevalence of blocked arteries. It is important to note here that both of these studies claim only to observe correlations, not necessarily cause-and-effect relationships, between coffee consumption and lower risks of heart disease and stroke.
- Possible improvements in mental health
Moderate coffee consumption might actually improve mental health! Some studies have found an inverse correlation between moderate coffee consumption and risk of depression and suicide. Like anything else, however, drinking too much coffee can hurt mental health. Exceeding a recommend intake of more than 400 mg of caffeine a day can increase feelings of anxiety; this amount decreases if there are already present symptoms of anxiety. So enjoy that coffee—in moderation.
- Mental stimulation
Okay, so might seem like a no-brainer at first: Since it is widely available and delicious, many people drink coffee to help wake up in the morning or when they’re feeling that afternoon slump. However, coffee can do more than just help folks get through the workday. Research suggests that caffeine intake is associated with lower risks of cognitive impairment, even in the aging or those suffering from dementia. There is some debate over how this happens.
Some studies suggest that coffee or even chocolate consumption can help improve mental cognition. One article from Age claims that intake of tea, not coffee, is associated with lower risks of cognitive impairment and decline. Another study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, however, says that it is coffee, rather than pure caffeine, that reduces these risks. While more research is needed on the subject, these findings provide promising new avenues of research (as well as another excuse to reach for that cup of coffee or extra square of chocolate).
When thinking of cancer-fighting foods, blueberries or cherries might come to mind. Add coffee to that mental list because, among other ingredients, the caffeine found in coffee can help fight cancer. One article published in BMJ Open suggests that coffee can reduce the risk of pahepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which accounts for most cancers of the liver. While both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can provide these benefits, it seems that there are more certain and positive benefits from drinking caffeinated coffee.
- Reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
In addition to fighting cancer, drinking caffeinated coffee could help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. A study published in Diabetologia shows that increasing consumption of caffeinated coffee, rather than tea or decaffeinated coffee, helped reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes over a 4-year period.
- Workout boost
Drinking a little bit of coffee might aid physical performances and boost workouts. Moderate doses of caffeine, for example, have been shown to potentially enhance strength performance or increase the height of basketball players’ jumps. One Sports Medicine article suggests that, in addition to moderate or even high caffeine doses, low doses of caffeine might also give athletic performance a boost.
- Can aid weight loss
Not only can caffeine boost athletic performance, some claim it can even help people lose weight. It is thought that caffeine, when combined with exercise, can boost weight loss by stimulating the nervous system and boosting metabolism.
- Overall decreased risk of mortality
While drinking coffee won’t make someone immortal, research has associated lower rates of dying to coffee drinkers. One large study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found inverse associations between coffee drinking and total and cause-specific mortality rates, such as heart disease. It is important to note that this study does not claim a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee (both caffeinated and decaffeinated) consumption and lower rates of death, merely that there is an inverse association between drinking coffee and mortality (both total and cause-specific).