I’ve heard it called java, joe, mud, dirt, and brew. I call it liquid gold…and I’m not alone. Coffee is the most popular beverage in the whole world. In the Unites States alone, over 280 million cups of coffee are consumed each day! So, for the 62% of us Americans who drink coffee, should we add our favorite morning beverage to our list of healthy or unhealthy habits?
For years, coffee has gotten a bad rap. From the time you were a little kid you were probably told that coffee was for adults only because it would stunt your growth. Just recently, I’ve had several clients say that their New Year’s Resolution was to ‘drink less coffee’ or give it up all together. Why?? Some clients tell me that they’ve read coffee dehydrates you while others tell me that it’s because coffee causes high blood pressure.
I’m here to tell you exactly what I told them. Are you ready? Coffee drinkers rejoice because not only is coffee not bad for you, it actually has some amazing health benefits. In fact, just recently two studies showed that people who regularly consume coffee appear to live longer! Here’s what I know….
- Coffee is good for your liver—especially if you drink alcohol. A recent study showed that those who drink at least one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less to develop liver cirrhosis— a disease caused by excessive alcohol consumption that could lead to liver failure and cancer. It’s believed this is due to the fact that drinking coffee may reduce DNA damage, increase the clearance of virus-infected cells, and slow the scarring process, coffee actually reduces liver disease progression.
- Coffee contains a large amount of important Antioxidants: Americans consume more antioxidants from coffee than any other food and beverage in their diets–nothing else comes close to providing as many antioxidants as coffee. While fruits and vegetables also have tons of antioxidants, the human body seems to absorb the most from coffee.
- Consuming coffee can reduce skin cancer in women: Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School followed 112,897 men and women over a 20-year periodand, apparently, women who drink three or more cups of coffee a day are much less likely to develop skin cancer than those who don’t.
- Coffee can lower your risk of Type II Diabetes and Stroke: Coffee can affect your metabolism and lower your risk of developing type II diabetes. Consuming three to four cups of coffee a day was found to be associated with a 25 percent lower risk! Consuming coffee has also been shown to keep your blood vessels healthy and flexible lowering your risk of having a stroke.
- Coffee can lower your risk of Alzheimer’s, Dementia and Parkinson’s: Yes, coffee may help keep your mind sharp as you age by slowing the onset of neurodegenerative disease. Multiple studies have suggested that coffee drinkers have up to a 60 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the beverage may help reduce a person’s risk of Parkinson’s by 32 to 60 percent. Caffeine has shown to “inhibit production of beta-amyloid,” a protein that has been shown to build up in the brain of people with Alzheimer’s disease. The older you get, the harder it is to metabolize or use up — all that excess protein, which causes a log jam in your brain. The stimulant boost from coffee ensures your system only metabolizes all of the available protein.
- Coffee is a performance booster: Athletes and coaches have long used coffee to boost athletic performance before a competition. Caffeine, in particular, “has been proven to increase the number of fatty acids circulating in the bloodstream,” reports The New York Times, “which enables people to run or pedal longer.” (One study suggests that as many as two-thirds of Olympic athletes were found with caffeine in their urine.)
- Drinking coffee can make you feel happier: A recent study found that those who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 10 percent less likely to be depressed than someone who didn’t drink coffee at all. Oddly, the same mental-health benefits didn’t extend to other caffeinated beverages — particularly cola, which was linked to a higher risk of depression (perhaps because of the high sugar content). Therefore, researchers suggest coffee’s “mood-lifting effect might be traced to back to its antioxidants.
All of these studies yielded great news for coffee drinkers. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…moderation is key. Enjoy your coffee knowing that a few cups a day will not hurt you. But, the nutritionist in me can’t leave you with just that. A few important things to remember about how you’re consuming your coffee. It’s all about what you’re putting in that cup of liquid gold. The healthiest way to consume coffee is black. If that’s a little too intense for you try lightening it up with almond milk or skim milk—adding half and half or sugary supermarket creamers can really add tons of unnecessary fat and calories to your daily intake. Choose natural sweeteners and skip the sugar, sweet and low and Splenda. Lastly, wake up and smell the coffee. For so many reasons, you’ll be glad you did. Xx Janine