No, we're not talking about cigarettes or booze. We're referring to that dark, aromatic, morning beverage that is a guilty pleasure for some. Fortunately, it doesn't really have to be.
Until recently, drinking coffee was viewed as another bad habit, leading to high blood pressure, insomnia, and other health problems.
And while it’s true that high amounts of coffee can temporarily elevate blood pressure or cause insomnia for certain individuals, its effects are now recognized as mainly positive. Here's why.
Coffee Offers Longevity BenefitsOf particular interest to “life extensionists” is coffee's association with a longer life. In 2008, a report showed a decreased risk of dying over a 14-year period for coffee drinkers.1
And a recent study of Greek residents living in Ikaria (an island full of centenarians) linked coffee drinking to improved vascular function.2
Coffee is Chock-Full of AntioxidantsDid you know that coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet? Coffee contains more than one thousand recognized phytochemicals, among them chlorogenic acid.
By inhibiting the action of an enzyme known as glucose-6-phosphatase, chlorogenic acid contributes to healthy blood sugar levels. This is helpful for those with metabolic syndrome, diabetes or obesity.
Another important compound found in coffee is caffeic acid. It supports weight loss,3, 4 and it may also help reduce the risk of breast cancer.5
Coffee Offers Memory-Boosting EffectsThe best-known component of coffee is caffeine. Caffeine is the reason why most people drink coffee, although its wonderful aroma and pleasant taste come in at a close second.
Caffeine imparts a sense of energy, alertness, and well-being. While it was once believed that caffeine didn't help memory, recent evidence suggests otherwise.
In a study, researchers found caffeine boosted memory 24 hours after ingestion, leading them to conclude that caffeine enhances the consolidation of long-term memories.6
And in a study of people with mild cognitive impairment, higher blood levels of caffeine were associated with a reduced risk or delayed onset of dementia.7
Coffee PrecautionsLike anything, coffee should be consumed in moderation. The risk of dependency, with its accompanying withdrawal headaches, is real.
For insomniacs, eliminating coffee after a certain time of day (for some people, as early as noon) can be essential for a good night's sleep. Caffeinated coffee should also be avoided by those suffering from anxiety disorders and urinary incontinence.
The Bottom LineCoffee shouldn’t be blindly shunned by health enthusiasts. It’s only now that we’re beginning to uncover its amazing health benefits.
- Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun;99(6):1354-61.
- Vasc Med. 2013 Apr;18(2):55-62.
- Food Chem Toxicol. 2010 Mar;48(3):937-43.
- J Agric Food Chem. 2013 Nov 20;61(46):11082-8.
- Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2008 Apr;17(4):895-901.
- Nat Neurosci. 2014 Feb;17(2):201-3.
- J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;30(3):559-72.
Share | |