When talking about coffee, many people would think that it is an unhealthy drink. Yes, coffee is not good for the health if drunk in excess. However, if consumed in moderation, no more than four cups a day, coffee is actually a safe beverage that may even offer some health benefits.
Coffee contains many antioxidants and research showing that consumption of antioxidant-rich coffee may inhibit diseases caused by oxidative damages. Coffee also been shown to improve endurance performance in long-duration physical activities.
Health Benefits of Coffee
1. Treat diabetes
Many studies have suggested that drinking coffee can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes by up to 50%. This may due to the chlorogenic acid in coffee which has been shown to slow the absorption of sugar in the digestive tract. Chlorogenic acid also stimulates the formation of GLP-1, a chemical that increases insulin sensitivity.
2. Improve cognitive function
Women who regularly drank coffee recorded a slower rate of cognitive decline. A study in France showed that drinking at least three cups of coffee a day can slow down cognitive decline due to aging by up to 33 percent in women. However, similar benefits are not found in men. This is probably because women are more sensitive to caffeine.
3. Decrease Parkinson’s disease risk
A 2007 study found that those who drank at least one cup of coffee a day had a 50% lower chance of developing Parkinson’s disease, but studies in women have been inconclusive. It seems that women undergoing hormone replacement therapy have increased chances of Parkinson’s when drinking coffee, but those who haven’t undergone such therapy show a benefit in the same way as men.
One possible explanation for the sex difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.
4. Reduce stroke risk
A 2009 study has shown that women who drank three to four cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower chance of having a stroke, compared to women who drank less than one cup a month. Another study among male in Finland also showed similar results.
5. Prevent cancer
The antioxidant compounds in coffee may help prevent certain cancers. In a Japanese study, women who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a 25% lower risk of colon cancer, compared with those who didn’t consume coffee.
Coffee consumption is also correlated to a reduced risk of esophageal, pharyngeal, oral and skin cancer.
6. Prevent gallstones
Recent research shows that drinking coffee daily can reduce the risk of gallstones. The caffeine in coffee stimulates gallbladder contraction and lowers cholesterol concentrations in bile.
7. Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
Several studies suggest that people who drank 3 or more coffee a day were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease later in life, compared to those who drank little or no coffee.
Researchers also found that caffeine in coffee may reduce production of the protein beta-amyloid, deposits of which often form in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
8. Reduce liver disease risk
Coffee can also lower the risk of liver cirrhosis and other liver diseases due to the antioxidants and caffeine in it. An analysis of nine studies found that drinking two cups of coffee a day can reduce the risk of liver cirrhosis by 80%.
Negative Effects of Coffee
In addition, caffeine in coffee can also increase the risk of miscarriage in pregnant women. Hence, it is a good idea for pregnant women to minimize their intake of caffeine or stop consume it.
To prevent the negative effects of coffee, cut down your caffeine intake, or switch to decaffeinated coffee. Also, be sure to always consume two glasses of water for every one cup of coffee you drink. This may minimize the harmful effects of the caffeine drink.