Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the US, with the average American adult drinking 3.1 cups of coffee every single day. It’s easy to see why – as well as boasting rich and complex flavors, coffee contains plenty of caffeine to help make the mornings more bearable.
If you’re a coffee fanatic, you may be wondering what effect your daily habit could be having on your health. While we’re often warned about the adverse effects of ingesting too much caffeine, it is worth noting that coffee comes with a host of little-known benefits that could lengthen your lifespan.
To help you separate myth from fact, we’ve put together a brief guide to the positives and negatives of coffee. Some of them may surprise you.
The Benefits of Coffee
Let’s start with the facts you want to hear. Here are just a few of coffee’s proven benefits:
1. Improved brain function and a faster metabolism
You probably don’t need us to tell you that coffee improves alertness and reaction times, but scientific research has demonstrated that its stimulating effects can actually boost brain activity and cognitive function in the short term. This could prove very useful if you have an important presentation or test coming up.
If that weren’t enough, coffee has the potential to boost your metabolism, potentially aiding weight loss efforts and improving athletic performance.
2. Coffee is full of nutrients and antioxidants
Coffee is very high in substances known as antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for preventing or mitigating cell damage caused by a wide range of factors including consumption of artificial additives and excessive exercise. This cell damage could lead to problems such as vision loss or cancer, so it is worth trying to ingest antioxidants on a regular basis.
Coffee also contains a whole host of nutrients including magnesium, manganese, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5, all of which help to keep the internal organs in good working order.
3. Coffee lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
Regular coffee consumption could reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around 7%, according to a review of available studies on the topic. If you have a family history of the disease or are simply looking to lower your risk of developing metabolic issues, therefore, drinking a coffee or two every day could prove beneficial.
4. Lowered risk of liver disease
Liver cirrhosis is a serious and life-limiting disease typically caused by excessive consumption of alcohol or, occasionally, fructose. According to scientific studies, coffee drinkers have a significantly lower chance of developing cirrhosis compared to those who do not drink coffee.
5. Positive mental health effects
As well as boosting your mood with every cup, coffee could significantly lower your risk of developing mental health problems such as depression. One study even found that people who drank coffee in significant quantities were at a 20% lower risk of depression compared to those who drank moderate amounts or none at all.
6. Coffee drinkers seem to live longer
Given the many positive health effects of coffee consumption listed above, it is perhaps not surprising that coffee drinkers tend to live longer than those who never indulge in the stuff.
The Drawbacks of Coffee
Having read the above information, you’re probably itching to make yourself a rich espresso or frothy latte. Before you secure your next caffeine fix, however, it would only be right to warn you of coffee’s negative health effects.
While coffee is certainly beneficial for some people, those who are sensitive to caffeine may need to limit their intake. Potential drawbacks of coffee consumption include:
1. Disrupted sleep
If you suffer from chronic insomnia and can’t figure out the root cause, you could be sensitive to caffeine. Try cutting out all caffeinated beverages after 2 pm and sticking to only one or two cups of coffee in the morning. Changing your habits could significantly improve your sleep quality.
2. Withdrawal symptoms
Caffeine is addictive and failing to get your caffeine fix could lead to withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, brain fog, and more. If you’re worried about your dependence on coffee, try slowly lowering your daily intake to a cup or two a day.
3. Anxiety and panic attacks
Drinking coffee could be problematic for those prone to mental health issues such as anxiety and panic disorders. According to research, too much caffeine can lead to overstimulation, jitteriness, and worsened mental health outcomes.
4. Overconsumption of calories
While black coffee is virtually free from calories, many of us like to drink sugary lattes, cappuccinos, and mochas. If you’re a fan of purchasing sweetened beverages from coffee shops, it is worth noting that certain products from some of the country’s most popular outlets contain upwards of 800 calories!
This is very bad news whether or not you’re trying to lose weight. To make your coffee habit less harmful, the best thing to do is to switch to black coffee. If black coffee is a little too bitter for your tastes, however, you could try switching to skim milk, asking for sugar-free flavorings, and avoiding all ice cream-based beverages.
So, how much coffee should you be drinking?
Many of us enjoy drinking a few cups of coffee every day and there is little evidence to suggest that doing so will seriously harm your health. In fact, many studies have shown that drinking coffee in moderation could offer protective benefits, so there is no need to adapt your lifestyle if you’re already drinking three or four cups a day.
If you don’t like bitter the taste of coffee, however, there is no real reason to start drinking it. You may be tempted to indulge in coffee products full of sugar, which could ultimately counteract all of coffee’s wonderful benefits.
Furthermore, if you suffer from sleep problems or an anxiety disorder, you may wish to cut down on the amount of caffeine you are drinking. You may be sensitive to caffeine, so lowering your consumption could significantly improve the severity of your symptoms.