Like many health and nutrition options, when it comes to answering the question, “is drinking coffee healthy?”, the answer is: it depends.
There are many contributing factors as to why coffee may or may not be healthy for you. Such factors include; the biochemistry, the source of where the beans came from, when and how you drink the coffee, and much more. For certain, adding artificial sweeteners, sugar, or processed creamer blends should always be avoided.
Drinking coffee was once considered unhealthy and if you were considered an addict, you would potentially develop unhealthy habits such as, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and eating less fruits and vegetables. Today, new articles get posted each week about the health-promoting benefits to drinking coffee. So, which research is correct?
Modern day research finds no correlation between coffee consumption (in moderation) and risk for heart disease, cancer, or stroke. In fact, many studies show a decreased risk of diseases for those who drink coffee in moderation. Mayo Clinic reported that, coffee may have health benefits including protecting against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease/cancer. It also appears to improve longevity, cognitive function, and decrease risk of depression.
Potential Concerns with Coffee Consumption
Let’s talk about them
The caffeine: If you’ve got a sensitivity to caffeine, then sure … there’s such thing as too much coffee for you. If you feel it affects your mood or gives you the jitters – be wise.
Consume less cups, drink decaf, or opt for tea. But, if you’re a 2, 3, or 4 cup a day drinker … rest assured, you can keep on enjoying the flavor, comfort, and health benefits of java. The habit of needing coffee and consuming this drink every single day, it can lead to dependence. Caffeine can be an addiction. But, the substance of where you get the caffeine matters.
Pesticides: Coffee beans are always in large demand so they are a highly sprayed crop. It is recommend to stick to organic beans whenever possible to avoid pesticide exposure.
Mold: Mycotoxins are damaging compounds that are created by molds which grow on coffee beans (among other things). These compounds can cause kidney problems, cancer, hypertension, brain damage, and cardiomyopathy. But, not all coffee contains this mold problem so the source matters.
When you see the phrase “Blends” of coffee, they are mixes of cheap beans from multiple areas, which can almost guarantee you’ll be getting some moldy ones. This is why you should purchase organic or from a single estate to ensure your consuming the highest quality coffee.
Mold is everywhere, but caffeine helps prevent mold from developing from the beans while they are in storage. Decaf coffee does not have this benefit, so know your source of where the beans came from.
Potential Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Performance Increase: Caffeine’s main function in the brain is to block the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine. By blocking the effects of this neurotransmitter, caffeine increases neuronal firing in the brain and releases other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine (source).
In fact, when it comes to neurodegenerative concerns or issues regarding the way your brain operates, coffee and caffeine are known to enhance short-term memory and cognitive function. And recently, limited research suggests regular use of coffee could help defend your brain against cognitive decline (source).
Many controlled experiments have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, cognitive thinking, and vigilance (source). These studies show that coffee can help to improve athletic performance, mobilize fat from cells, and increase stamina.
Antioxidants: Coffee contains large amounts of antioxidants including polyphenols. In recent studies, more Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from other sources. While drinking coffee (black) is beneficial, it is sad we aren’t getting more from our fruits and vegetables, vitamin c rich or magnesium rich sources.
While it is important to drink black coffee in moderation, it is also important to balance this by consuming other antioxidant-rich foods and other natural sources.
Lower risk of mental disorders and diabetes: Regular coffee consumption could actually reduce the risks of metabolic issues by helping to improve beta cell function and keeping insulin levels and blood pressure more regular (source). Long term coffee consumption is correlated to lower risk of type-2 diabetes. People who drink four or more cups of coffee (black) per day are 50% less likely to develop diabetes (source).
Side Note: Here are some awesome uses for used coffee grounds such as beauty products, compost, and as a natural deodorizer.
The Bottom Line
Coffee can be very beneficial to you, as long as your body can tolerate it. Best advice is to always listen to your body. Just remember – some of the listed above benefits can be minimized by the things people add to coffee … creamers, milk, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. So, if possible, drink your coffee black for your health! In fact, I think I’m going to reward myself with an expresso right now.