That coffee has properties should not surprise anyone, positive or negative; we will see them throughout the post.
Coffee is one of the favourite drinks of the Western world, and its consumption is widespread in Europe, America and Oceania. It has an ancient and strong presence in the Islamic world before its presence in the West, and it is gaining more and more relevance in Asia in countries like Japan, for example, where the translation of drinking tea is very strong.
If you love coffee, you wake up with it, meet up to talk to someone over a cup of good coffee or top off a fantastic meal with a refreshing cup.
What is the biggest advantage, for most coffee drinkers, of coffee drinking?
Drinking it with company units.
Coffee is a facilitator of social relations. This is perhaps the least studied of the assertions we will make here, but not for that reason the least true. That’s right; conversation flows better with coffee on the table.
We are not going to deny that coffee has its ups and downs, but as more and more studies appear, its benefits seem to outweigh its risks.
Its best-known compound, caffeine, is a psychoactive drug with important effects on our nervous system and has recently been the subject of numerous scientific studies.
Main disadvantages of coffee
- It can cause anxiety and irritability, or sleep problems.
- Very high consumption can cause headaches, tremors, nervous agitation and tachycardia.
- Certain gastrointestinal complaints include dyspepsia, colic, diarrhoea, nausea, etc.
- It may raise plasma cholesterol by 6-8%.
- It may reduce fertility in women.
Coffee has its pros and cons; there is no doubt about it.
But coffee has more “pros” than “cons” if consumed in moderation.
But you may not know that it also has a vasodilator effect and seems to have a preventive effect on the onset of diseases such as diabetes or some types of cancer.
Coffee consumption in moderation positively impacts our health; we should not lose sight of the fact that coffee itself is of natural origin and is a huge source of antioxidants.
According to a July 2017 study, drinking three to four cups of coffee daily reduces the risk of death.
The literal conclusion drawn from this publication is startling:
Coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of death from various causes. This relationship did not vary by country.
In fact, the more we learn about the effects of coffee, the more research we do, and the more the advantages of this beverage with scientifically proven benefits seem to increase.
A study reached the same conclusion by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in the United States, published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, which analysed more than 400,000 people aged between 50 and 71 over 14 years.
The research showed that those who consumed coffee daily reduced their risk of death from cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections and injuries.
The analysis found that coffee had protective properties for most diseases studied, revealing that drinking around four cups daily reduced their risk of death by 14%.
Eleven properties of coffee that help you live
1. Coffee contains essential nutrients for the human diet
We think of coffee as a simple mixture of water and caffeine, but the brew has many other essential nutrients for our bodies.
Although it depends on the type of coffee, its origin, and its harvest, it can be said that this drink generally contains small amounts of vitamins.
One cup contains
- 6.2 mg of choline, which belongs to the family of B vitamins.
- 4.7 micrograms of folic acid (vitamin B).
- 0.5 mg niacin (vitamin B3).
- 0.2 micrograms of vitamin K.
- Vitamin B12 via riboflavin and vitamin B5 via 0,6 mg pantothenic acid.
The B vitamins are related to metabolism and contribute to the correct functioning of the organism in different ways, which is why it is necessary to take them into account when analysing our diet to achieve the nutritional intake our body needs.
There is also evidence of other nutrients in coffee, such as magnesium, phosphorus, selenium and potassium. The latter is particularly noteworthy because it is present in each cup at 80 mg.
There are more than 30 types of antioxidants in coffee.
Polyphenol antioxidants are one of the main nutrients in coffee. They balance free radicals; molecules created when oxygen enters the body and interacts with various tissues.
Although the proportion of them that we can find in a cup of coffee is not very high, we will find thirty different types of antioxidants in each cup.
They contribute to cellular ageing, for which we can also take other foods that contain them. Even so, it is still the greatest source of antioxidants in adults, more so than fruit or vegetables.
2. It keeps us alert
Many human studies show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function.
Caffeine is the best-known component of coffee and the most widely consumed psychoactive in the world. As soon as you drink coffee, caffeine acts on the brain, blocking a neurotransmitter, adenosine, which increases other substances, such as dopamine or norepinephrine, which speed up brain activity.
It improves memory, mood, alertness, energy levels, reaction times and overall cognitive function.
- Students use improved memory or concentration to help them perform better in the hours they spend studying. Who hasn’t had a couple of coffees as a university student?
- The Dirección General de Tráfico recommends drinking coffee to stay alert on long journeys.
In exchange for these advantages, coffee keeps us awake for longer, which can lead to sleep disorders.
That is why most experts recommend drinking no more than four cups daily.
Each body reacts differently to caffeine, so what is moderate for one person, for example, a couple of cups a day, maybe too much for another and cause problems when it comes to falling asleep. Bear this in mind before making your decisions.
3. Coffee helps burn fat
Caffeine is present in most dietary supplements that are supposed to help us lose weight.
It is one of the few natural substances that help burn fat.
Drinking a minimum of three cups of coffee daily, albeit a light roast, as it contains a higher level of polyphenols, helps you lose weight. You can even drink decaffeinated coffee – if you get to three cups a day, you’ll get that effect.
The only bad news is that these positive effects of caffeine diminish in heavy drinkers and that if you overeat, you won’t lose weight. It helps, but it doesn’t work miracles.
4. Improves our physical performance
Many athletes drink coffee before competing, as caffeine increases adrenaline levels. It stimulates our bodies, particularly our nervous system and brain functions. It excites us, keeps us awake and speeds up the heart.
This particularity of caffeine suggests that it could improve our physical performance.
Some studies have shown that it reduces the feeling of tiredness, stimulates our heart and breathing and allows us to use fat more efficiently.
Caffeine prepares our body for exceptional physical exertion: it causes fat cells to break down body fat, releasing it as free fatty acids, which we use as fuel when we exercise. However, to improve physical performance, you must train because drinking coffee alone will not do it.
5. Combat depression and suicide
Drinking 2 to 4 cups of coffee daily also reduces the risk of depression, especially in women.
According to a Harvard University study, the risk of depression decreases when coffee consumption increases, at least in women.
Women who consumed four or more cups of coffee daily had 20 per cent less depression.
Again, caffeine is responsible for this reduction. Coffee can be an excellent mild-acting antidepressant that will not cause drug-like side effects. The way it does this is as follows:
Coffee acts by regulating our stress to prevent it from turning into depression, as this study by the University of Navarra (Spain) states.
It blocks dopamine receptors, the neurotransmitter related to anxiety and stress. If this neurotransmitter is over-excited, we run the risk of becoming depressed. Knowing that decaffeinated coffee will not have the same effects is useful.
Drinking one cup daily (about 100 ml) is enough to notice a noticeable improvement.
Coffee consumption reduces the likelihood of suicide by up to 50%
According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, those who drink coffee every day commit suicide up to 50% less than people who do not drink coffee at all or who drink decaffeinated coffee. The right amount is between two and four cups of coffee a day.
6. Neurodegenerative diseases
Diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s still have no cure in ageing populations such as those in Europe, but they are very prevalent among the elderly.
However, thanks to caffeine, there is a 65% less chance of Alzheimer’s and up to 60% less chance of suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
The consumption of decaffeinated coffee has not shown either of these two advantages.
7. Reduces the risk of diabetes
Studies show that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, the most common type, can be prevented by healthy lifestyle habits: maintaining a healthy weight and exercising. But caffeine also seems to play a role in the equation.
Studies have shown that people who drink coffee have a 23-50% lower risk of developing diabetes.
Some research puts this effect as high as 67%. It is unclear which elements in coffee produce this effect, but different studies corroborate this positive effect. Some studies suggest that the benefits of coffee for people with diabetes are due to its high antioxidant content.
According to a study published in The Americal Journal of Clinical Nutrition, coffee ranks sixth on the list of the 50 foods with the highest antioxidant content, after blackberries, walnuts, strawberries, artichokes and blueberries. Their contribution of polyphenols, natural antioxidants, protects the body against cellular oxidation and possible damage caused by free radicals.
The liver is our largest viscera and the one with the most functions in our organism. One of the most common liver diseases is cirrhosis, which is closely related to alcoholism and hepatitis.
Studies have concluded that those who drink more than four coffees a day are 80% less likely to suffer from cirrhosis.
The study focused on the effects of coffee, alcohol, black tea, green tea and soft drinks as risk factors for cirrhosis mortality.
They analysed the medical records, lifestyle and diet of more than 63,000 people aged 45-74. Participants were followed for 15 years. After this time, the researchers recorded 14,928 deaths, of which 114 were due to liver cirrhosis.
After cross-checking the data, they found that only coffee decreased this risk and, as expected, alcohol increased the chances of death from liver cirrhosis.
The problem is that to get this benefit, you have to drink more coffee than is usually recommended as ideal, remember between 2 and 4 cups.
9. Moderate coffee consumption reduces the risk of some types of cancer
The most recent studies on coffee and cancer published in journals such as the American Journal of Epidemiology, Public Health Nutrition and the British Journal of Cancer link coffee drinking with a lower risk of some types of cancer, including:
- Prostate cancer
- Liver cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- some cancers of the mouth and throat
- Colon and rectal cancer.
- A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in the United States on 968,432 people who did not have cancer at the start of the study analysed the relationship between coffee consumption and mortality caused by oropharyngeal cancer.
- Intake of more than 4 cups of coffee per day reported a 49% reduction in the risk of death from oropharyngeal cancer compared to non-consumers or occasional consumers.
- Another study in Singapore examined the relationship between coffee consumption and gastric cancer risk in a population of 63,257 people. It showed that daily consumption of coffee could reduce the risk of this tumour in high-risk populations, especially in women.
- In a meta-analysis published in Public Health Nutrition, which analysed data from 41 studies, coffee consumption may also significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.
- About prostate cancer, a recent meta-analysis has shown that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of prostate cancer than non-drinkers.
- The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer and conducted in Ohsaki City, Japan, has verified the relationship between coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk, showing that coffee intake is inversely related to prostate cancer incidence.
- For endometrial cancer research has also suggested that coffee consumption is linked to a lower risk of endometrial cancer.
- Data from a study of 45,696 postmenopausal women, 427 of whom had endometrial cancer, suggested that coffee consumption may be associated with a lower risk of this tumour in obese postmenopausal women.
- A British Journal of Cancer study has also shown that coffee may protect against type I endometrial cancer in obese postmenopausal women.
10. Reduces the likelihood of heart disease
Although caffeine increases blood pressure, it reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and even prevents the possibility of a heart attack.
A study published in the American Heart Association (AHA) journal, Circulation Heart Failure, claims that coffee has a cardioprotective effect, as it is associated with a reduced risk of developing heart failure.
However, it recognises that there is a consumption limit which, once exceeded, can lead to an increase in cardiovascular risk, and sets this daily limit at four cups of coffee.
In this case, it seems that it is the antioxidants that are responsible for the benefit, which is not only found in coffee but is also present in many other foods, such as vegetables or fresh produce like fruit and also chocolate or tea, which, by the way, it is worth noting that the latter two also contain caffeine.
11. Coffee relieves pain in the head, neck and shoulders
It can effectively reduce tension pain in the neck and shoulders caused by stress or muscle overload. The study was carried out by the National Institute of Occupational Health (Norway) and explains the following:
Drinking coffee before working in front of the computer reduces the risk of joint pain.
The health benefits of coffee are many and varied. However, it would be best if you did not overdo it; remember that it should be consumed in moderation. Nothing in excess is good, and this is true even for coffee.
We recommend you drink no more than 4-5 cups daily.