Did you know coffee is the most popular drink in the world, with over 400 billion cups drank annually? But what are the benefits, other than a kick in the pants to get you going for the day?
Is there anything better than the aroma of coffee in the morning? For coffee lovers, the answer is a resounding “no!” Americano, cappuccino, latte, flat white, espresso, ristretto, mocha—there are so many variations and each caters to different tastes and when they are drunk. Purists care about— and can tell the difference between—bean origins and understand the chemical changes roasting induces, while others just want a caffeine fix in any form. It should be noted that coffee here doesn’t refer to coffee-based drinks loaded with sugar and whipped cream!
We drink coffee at home, in famous coffee chains and independent cafes specialising in this most versatile of beverages. There are those who say it’s addictive, but it’s more of a habit or dependency than an addiction. And, as with everything else, moderation is key. Drinking too many cups of anything (besides water!) is going to have some adverse effect. Studies have shown that coffee has numerous benefits (besides the obvious caffeine buzz in the morning) as it contains antioxidants that may help prevent serious medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
The two main compounds found in coffee—caffeine and polyphenols—offer a surprising number of health benefits, which is great news of coffee fans.
Caffeine: This stimulant compound is found in coffee beans, tea leaves and cocoa beans and stimulates our central nervous system making us more alert and awake. But be careful—too much caffeine can cause an adrenaline surge leading to raised blood pressure.
Polyphenols: Act as an antioxidant and protect cells against free radicals. They are found in fruits (blueberries, strawberries), vegetables (spinach, artichoke) and coffee beans.
Health benefits of coffee
- Increased energy and enhanced mood: One of the main reasons why people have a coffee first thing in the morning—or if they have to pull an all-nighter! When it comes to sports and fitness, studies have shown that coffee may increase oxygen consumption leading to improved performance and even help decrease body fat, making it a great way to supplement your morning workout, or just get yourself ready for the day ahead.
- Reduced risk of major disease: Coffee may reduce the risk of strokes, heart attacks, gout, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and liver cancer. But don’t be misled into thinking coffee is a cure-all. What it may do is help lessen the risk of these major diseases if you’re already leading a healthy lifestyle.
- Reduced migraines or headaches: Caffeine is an ingredient in many types of painkillers and helps constrict blood vessels, which get inflamed due to the release of adenosine, a chemical that causes headaches and migraines. Coffee may ease the pain due to its caffeine content. However, everyone is different and some may notice that caffeine triggers migraines. If you’re prone to caffeine-induced headaches, it’s best to steer clear!
- Reduced risk of melanoma: A study investigating over 400,000 coffee-drinking people over 10 years found that those who drank four or more cups daily had a lower risk of developing melanoma compared to those who didn’t or drank decaffeinated coffee instead.