Why is coffee is good for you and where should you draw the line?
There have long been discussions about the health benefits of coffee, and skeptics are not convinced. However, in recent years, more studies and scientific research have shown that coffee, when consumed appropriately, can boost your well being in many ways. Following are the widely publicized reasons why coffee deserves more credit than it gets.
Reason 1: Dose of Healthy Antioxidants
Coffee has been proven to be a major, or even primary dietary source, of antioxidants for many coffee drinkers. There is so much antioxidant goodness, more than that found in green tea and other tea products. It is especially high in concentration of an antioxidant called flavonoids, which is associated with antitumor, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-platelet and anti-allergic activities. Another antioxidant, chlorogenic acid, is almost exclusively found in coffee and thought to prevent cardiovascular disease.
We don’t get enough antioxidants from our daily intake (or lack thereof) of fresh fruits and vegetables, and many coffee drinkers derive this from coffee instead. Antioxidants are important in protecting our body, especially so by neutralizing free radicals, promoting metabolic functions and protecting body cells from damage.
Decaffeinated coffee lovers can benefit too as both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee have found to contain almost equal levels of antioxidants.
Reason 2: Brain Power Booster
Caffeine can sharpen your memory and boost your alertness by enhancing blood flow in the brain and stimulating the mind. Every coffee drinker has experienced these effects, including improved thought formation and concentration. This brain boost is not just temporary, as a Finnish study has shown that regular coffee consumption helps prevent cognitive decline. Caffeine inhibits the beta-amyloid plaque from building up in your body, lowering the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
(Read more about this study on One Medical here)
Reason 3: Helps in Fighting Diseases
Countless researchers have agreed on the following prevention in diseases: Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, gout and many more. Some researchers also suggested that certain chemical compounds in coffee could activate a DNA-repairing protein in cells, perhaps stopping DNA damage that could result in formation of cancerous cells.
(Medical News Today talks about this in more detail)
Reason 4: Depression
Feeling unhappy? Coffee is a cup of happiness for those hoping for more positive moods!
A Harvard study found that caffeinated coffee consumption lowered depression rates amongst women. Those who drank 2-3 cups a day were 15% less likely to develop depression, as compared to women who consumed one cup or less a day (10-year study period). It is said that coffee can improve negative moods in the morning and helps develop feelings of pleasure.
Reason 5: Slimming Effects
Yes ladies (and gentlemen), slimming effects! One of the few substances proven to be able to aid fat burning is actually coffee and some studies have shown to increase the burning of fat, by up to 10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean people. No wonder so many commercial slimming products contain caffeine! It can also boost the metabolic rate by 3-11%, aiding in your quest to attain a healthy weight!
Some people experience over-excitement and start getting jittery. If you are one of them, mix your regular coffee with decaf or drink it along with your breakfast. For at least eight hours before bedtime, avoid caffeine if you find it hard to sleep.
Apart from Caffeine, coffee also contains cafestol, a compound that could increase the level of bad cholesterol in your blood, hence increasing your risk of heart arteries related diseases. However, this can be removed/separated by the use of coffee filters. At next visit to your favorite café, check with your barista if filters are being used!
This healthy, low-calorie content coffee can easily become otherwise if you add too much sugar etc. Coffeehouses and cafes often sell beverages that contain excessive amounts of refined sugar, milk, whipped cream and more. These are unhealthy add-ons that escalate the calorie count exponentially. Opt for a basic black coffee or request for skim, unsweetened soy or nut milk for a healthier cup of goodness.
Can I drink it everyday?
Healthy individuals with no special medical conditions to note can drink coffee on a daily basis. However, there are certain groups of people who may want to limit their intake. Pregnant women can reduce this intake to 200ml or less, as overconsumption could lead to their newborns being underweight. Individuals with high blood pressure should try to drink 1 cup or less in a day, as a study showed how 2-3 cups daily consumption cause a group of high blood pressure patients’ blood pressure to rise.
An over consumption of coffee can be easily avoided by taking note of how much caffeine your coffee contains. According to an article on Sing Tao Daily (星島日報), Arabica beans and Robusta beans have 1.2% and 2.2% caffeine content respectively. As a guide, this was the published estimated caffeine amount in your various coffee drinks:
Western-style brew coffee: 110 – 190
茶餐廳 （traditional Hong Kong cafe) Coffee: 170 – 380
Espresso: 62 – 170
Cappuccino: 55 -160
Latte: 54 – 140
The bottom line is that coffee is good for healthy individuals when consumed in moderate amounts and without too much unhealthy add-ons. Certain groups of people (e.g. high blood pressure patients) may also consider consuming less than average to balance out the side effects on them without having to give up on this widely-loved drink. For the rest, take a break with your cup of coffee today if you haven’t already done so!