Recognizing the importance of the bean

Now, as a recent but passionate coffee lover, I may not be the most unbiased author of this article. Coffee can be kind of tricky when you are analyzing health benefits, because there are so many different kinds for one thing, and for another because there are so many conflicting studies out there that it is hard to make sense of which one is really the truth. However, a recent study published by the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, comprised of some of the top health officials in the country, points to the definite health benefits of multiple cups a day, at least according to them and our national standards for health.

The study found very minimal health risks associated with consumption of 3 to 5 cups of Joe a day. In fact, they also found that drinking at least five cups a day (400 mg) actually has a lot of benefit to your health, such as reduced risk for cardiovascular disease, Parkinson ’s disease, liver cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. The study even said that pregnant women can safely drink up to two cups a day, where in the past it is traditionally thought that they should stay away from it altogether.

Interestingly enough, though Americans get a bad rap for being coffee fiends, we only on average drink one cup a day. Coffee consumption levels peaked back in 1946, when the average was only slightly higher at about 2 cups a day. The Netherlands actually drinks the most, and even their average today is only about 2.5 cups.

Now, this study is regarding black coffee specifically — no milk, cream or sugar. Once you start adding all of those extras, the calories can add up really fast. With the added sugar and calories, the health benefits of coffee are pretty much negated, as too much sugar can actually contribute to ailments such as diabetes and heart disease. So, if you want the full benefits of coffee, take it black, or at least as black as you can stand.

In addition to the health benefits I already discussed, caffeine (and therefore coffee) has numerous other benefits as well. There have been other studies conducted in the past that indicate that caffeine can improve mood, memory, vigilance reaction time, and general cognitive function.

Caffeine can also improve your performance in sports and your metabolism. Because of its stimulant effect on the central nervous system, it increases the oxidation of fatty acids in your body which effects the metabolism positively and also wakes your body up. Drinking some before working out may give you the extra kick to go a little longer than you would have otherwise.

There are also vitamins and antioxidants contained in coffee, such as multiple B vitamins, potassium, manganese, etc. Considering that a lot of Americans don’t get nearly the amount of nutrients that they need in their diets, every little bit helps.

And finally, one last obvious benefit of coffee: extra energy and ability to stay awake. Although you should be warned to take note of how caffeine affects you, as it does have more of an effect on some than others. Drinking it to close to when you want to go to sleep may not be the best idea if you are someone that does feel the kick for a while after consumption. That is more of a personalized thing, however, and most people are fine if they take in their caffeine by late afternoon or early evening.

These are some of the more common and most well-known benefits of coffee. It isn’t for everyone, and neither is the taste, but plain coffee does offer the opportunity to improve your health in multiple ways. Stay away from the fancy Starbucks drinks though, as those are the calories (and budget) traps that will actually take a toll on your body. Work your way up to taking your coffee black like I did though, and you may never go back again!

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