And How Much Coffee is Actually Healthy
As a country, we certainly like our coffee—as in, 64% of Americans drink java on a daily basis.
And yet, as popular as the ancient drink may be—with 1.4 billion cups of the good stuff poured everyday worldwide—coffee is not without its cynics. Indeed, the second most beloved beverage on the planet, right under water, has been flagged for causing everything from insomnia to anxiety and high blood pressure.
Some of this dates back to 1991, when the World Health Organization (WHO) classified coffee as a possible carcinogen. Fast forward to 2016, and the organization retracted their statement, finding “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.”
By that point—and since—most of the news surrounding coffee was positive, if not glowing. Science backed and backs this, and a larger and larger body of research is now showing that coffee consumption can lead to heaps of health benefits. Here are five of the leading ones:
The Top 5 Benefits of Drinking Coffee
1 - It’s jam-packed with antioxidants
It may be impossible to believe that the cup of joe that fuels your day is, actually, a nutritional powerhouse. To grasp this, however, think of how coffee is derived. It comes from the roasted seeds of coffee cherries, the fruit that grows on coffee trees. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it not only provides 118mg of potassium—roughly what you would consume in about 3oz of yogurt—but also antioxidants, which help shield you from the effects of free radical damage. According to a 2013 study published in Antioxidants, coffee contains the same amounts of polyphenols (plant-based, health-boosting compounds) as the much-lauded red wine, tea, and cocoa. Coffee also boasts hydroxycinnamic acids, which may help protect you from several diseases linked to oxidative stress, including atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Another antioxidant found in coffee, chlorogenic acid, has demonstrated to decrease inflammation. Is it any wonder why we line up at Hawaii coffee shops?
2 - …and it may lead to a sharper memory—and improved alertness
A 2014 study out of John Hopkins University concluded that consuming 200mg of caffeine could boost recall. While other studies are mixed on the subject, with some reporting that memory improved only when coffee was ingested at the time information was taken in and again when it was asked to be remembered (if ever there’s a reason to brew a pot), other studies still have found that coffee immediately bolsters alertness. Why? Because caffeine, of course, is a stimulant that directly affects the brain. As such, it may make perfect sense that caffeine consumption, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, is associated with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and cognitive decline.
3 - Coffee may help prevent diabetes
It’s no secret that type 2 diabetes is on the rise, with the American Diabetes Association reporting that a whopping 1.5 million people are diagnosed with the disease annually. Harvard University gave us even more motivation to keep our cabinets stocked with coffee when they announced that coffee might prevent type 2 diabetes, the most common form, from happening.
4 - ...and might help give your mood a boost
You likely love that kick of energy that coffee offers but it goes beyond just an extra burst of enthusiasm: Studies show that coffee seems to provoke the release of dopamine, a key brain chemical that evokes feelings of pleasure and euphoria, as well as the happy-boosting neurotransmitter, serotonin. What’s more, an analysis of 11 studies out of China found that coffee can diminish your risk of depression. A Harvard study supports these findings: In an assessment of 50,000 women, researchers at the university discovered that depression decreased as coffee consumption increased.
5 - It also improves athletic performance
Happen to be an athlete? Then you may want to put away that energy drink and reach for an iced capp instead. Numerous studies have shown that coffee enhances athletic performance by augmenting muscle strength, improving circulation, and fostering endurance by saving glycogen (your muscle’s chief energy source), which means that your body won’t run out of fuel as quickly. Furthermore, a 2018 study published in the journal Psychopharmacology revealed that caffeine increases pain tolerance—and this extends to your workouts. (How? Because coffee keeps some of your nerve endings from sending pain SOSes to your brain, which also explains why caffeine is a common additive in OTC pain medications.) There’s a reason why coffee has been called by some their go-go juice—and why there are over 35,000 coffee stores in the U.S. alone.
That being said, when performing as an athlete, it depends on the sport. I know firsthand, caffeine before surfing doesn't help AT ALL. When breath-hold is important, where a slow heart is important, coffee isn't a good idea.
If it's Hawaii coffee, you get to relive your last vacation or, if you live here, you get to support your neighbor farmers.
How Much Coffee is Actually Healthy?
Does all of this sound too good to be true? The benefits above are all backed by science but reasonableness is central to reaping coffee’s benefits. An excess may, as touched upon a bit above, result in sleeplessness, anxiousness, stomach distress, and headaches. (Also, women beware: Drinking a surplus of coffee can increase your risk of fractures as you age, while pregnant women who drink coffee may up their chances of miscarriages and premature births.) Also, Health reports that your genes play a role in how coffee impacts your well-being: “People who are genetically slow metabolizers of caffeine actually have an increased risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, and prediabetes after increased coffee consumption, whereas fast metabolizers do not carry these risks,” they say. In addition, caffeine hinders—rather than enriches—athletic performance in slow metabolizers.
So, what’s the magic number when it comes to how much coffee you can drink? For all those coffee lovers around the globe, the good news is this: According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 400mg of caffeine seems to be safe for most healthy adults—or approximately 4 cups of brewed coffee per day. Keep in mind, however, that different coffee beverages, such as Cold Brews, carry higher amounts of caffeine than the cup you typically brew at home. Additionally, pay attention to how you feel. If nervousness sets in at night, or you have digestive irritation, cut down on your consumption. Besides, to quote Hesiod, isn’t moderation, in the end, best in all things?~
We aren't doctors, so please read this as just our own web research results, whether flawed or out of date.