5 Reasons Why Coffee Can Be Good for You

woman drinking coffee

(HealthCastle.com) Do you need a jolt of coffee in the morning before you can function? The average American coffee drinker consumes close to 3.5 cups a day. With this much java flowing through our veins, it is interesting to note some emerging research that sheds a positive light on the health benefits of drinking coffee.

5 Reasons Why Coffee Can Be Good For You

1. Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Moderate coffee consumption is associated with reduced rates of type 2 diabetes. While the exact cause for this is still being studied, there is a hypothesis that the antioxidants found in coffee are partly responsible. A November 2011 study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry identified two coffee components - caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid - that inhibit the formation of misfolded hIAPP (human islet amyloid polypeptide, which is linked to the development of type 2 diabetes). A 2011 German study published in the Journal of ​Molecular Nutrition & Food Research ​found that dark roast coffee was more effective at improving antioxidant status in the red blood cells of healthy volunteers when compared to light roast coffee. Furthermore, it appears both regular (caffeinated) and decaffeinated coffees have beneficial effect on adipocyte (fat cells) and liver functions, as reported by researchers from Harvard in a 2011 ​Nutrition Journal article.

2. Lower Risk of Alzheimer's

Caffeine in coffee appears to interfere with the production of abnormal brain proteins typically associated with the development of Alzheimer's. In animal studies, caffeine has been shown to reverse cognitive impairment and decrease levels of these proteins. 

Finnish researchers reported in a 2010 ​Journal of Alzheimer's Disease article that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day at mid-life was associated with a 65% decreased risk of dementia or Alzheimer's disease later in life. In a 2011 study by UCLA researchers published in same journal, long-term consumption of coffee or tea was associated with moderately reduced rates of cognitive decline among elderly women. 

3. Lower Risk of Parkinson's Disease

While the mechanism underlying the protective effects of coffee for Parkinson's disease is not known, findings from different studies are consistent in reporting that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of Parkinson's disease. 

4. Enhance Athletic Performance

A moderate amount of coffee before exercising has been shown to help improve both performance and endurance. In other words, it allows you to exercise more intensely for a longer period of time.  A 2008 article in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism reported caffeine intakes in the range of 200 mg to 800 mg per day among some elite Canadian athletes, mainly from coffee. (A typical home-brewed drip coffee yields about 130 mg of caffeine per cup.)  

5. Provide a Zero- or Low-Calorie Pick-Me-Up Choice

As far as a pick-me-up option, coffee is a far leaner option than eating a candy bar or a piece of cake disguised as a muffin. Since black coffee itself has no calories, any additional calories you get from drinking coffee simply depend on what you add to it.

The Bottom Line

Since coffee is a plant-derived beverage, it is not surprising that some of the positive benefits of its consumption appear to be in line with the effects of plant-sourced antioxidants on the body. However, it is too early to specify what amount to consume, and is certainly not an excuse to go all-out. If you already drink coffee regularly, continue to enjoy it in moderation and be mindful of what you add to it. If you are not a coffee drinker, fruits and vegetables remain the best source for antioxidants in your diet.

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