There has been much research about whether or not coffee is good for you — and the general consensus is that it’s great when consumed in moderation.
According to The New York Times, for a long time coffee was thought to be a possible carcinogen but that perception has since changed, with the World Health Organisation (WHO) taking it off the list of possibly carcinogenic foods. These days, the beverage is now an accepted part of a healthy diet.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure what it is about coffee that has positive health effects but conclude that it’s most likely from the polyphenols — plant compounds which have antioxidant properties, as per The New York Times.
If you’re a daily coffee drinker, here are some of the health benefits you’re receiving from your cup of Joe…
“The evidence is pretty consistent that coffee is associated with a lower risk of mortality,” said Erikka Loftfield, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute, told The New York Times.
Research shows that coffee drinkers are less likely to die from coronary heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and diabetes — which are some of the most common causes of death in women, according to John Hopkin’s Medicine.
A study undertaken in 1968 found that coffee drinkers were less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease. There has been much research on this subject since then and many researchers have found similar outcomes, but more studies are needed to fully confirm this. According to John Hopkin’s Medicine, caffeine can also help give those with Parkinson’s better control over their movements.
Coffee seems to have a protective effect on the liver and can help shield it from cirrhosis, which can be caused by hepatitis and fatty liver disease. According to Healthline, several studies have found that people who drink four or more cups of coffee per day have an 80% lower risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver.
Of course, this doesn’t replace a healthy lifestyle and drinking alcohol in moderation.
Scientists have pinpointed two types of cancer that coffee seems to lower the risk of and those are liver and colorectal cancer. According to the WHO, colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the world, while liver is the fourth.
A study published in 2016 found that of the nearly 500,000 participants, those who consumed four to five cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer, while other studies have shown a 40% lower risk of liver cancer in those who regularly consume coffee.
While we know that caffeine gives us a shot of energy, it can also actively help your physical performance. According to Healthline, caffeine stimulates your nervous system, which in turn signals fat cells to begin breaking down body fat, while also increasing adrenaline levels in your blood.
As caffeine breaks down body fat, it makes free fatty acids available for your body to use as fuel, which can improve your physical performance by 11 to 12%. Have a coffee half an hour before you workout to reap the benefits.
Many studies have attempted to find whether the way your coffee is prepared can affect its health benefits, but it seems that’s not the case — except for instant coffee, which appears to have a weaker effect.
When it comes to the addition of sugar, artificial sweeteners and milk, scientists aren’t exactly sure. According to The New York Times, a study from 2015 found that coffee had similar health benefits even when sugar, milk or cream were added.
But, the more sweeteners you add, the less healthy the coffee becomes.
“When you talk about a drink that has that load of unhealthy fats and that much sugar, can’t possibly be a healthy beverage on balance,” Dr. Jim Krieger, a clinical professor of medicine and health services at the University of Washington, told The New York Times.
Just because coffee has many positive health benefits doesn’t mean you need to start pounding down four cups a day. Coffee simply doesn’t agree with some people and instead has negative side effects like jitteriness and anxious feelings. If this is how coffee makes you feel, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise (sans coffee) is the best way to go.