National Coffee Day: Grab a Cup for Your Health Today
Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day. This comes out to 146 billion cups each year. It’s a good thing that it’s good for us!
We may not celebrate by giving gifts or by getting a day off of work, but today is National Coffee Day. Many of your favorite spots are giving away cups at reduced rates – or even free! I thought it might be nice to celebrate the day by summarizing all the ways coffee may be beneficial to our health!
Gives Us Energy! – (at least temporarily)
Caffeine in coffee is a nervous system stimulant. Caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain where it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. When that happens, a cascade of events occurs which leads to an enhanced firing of brain neurons. So while coffee doesn’t provide energy in the form of fuel for cells – it does make us feel less tired and more alert.
Contains Polyphenols and other Nutrients
Polyphenols are antioxidants that can help slow or prevent cell damage. Coffee also contains Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium, and Niacin.
May Help with Weight Loss Efforts
Caffeine has been shown to boost metabolic rate, thus burning more calories.
May Protect against Type 2 Diabetes
A 2014 Harvard study found that those who increased their coffee intake by a cup or more over a 4 year period had an 11% lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes
May Promote Heart Health
A 2013 study review published in Epidemiology and Prevention found that coffee consumption was correlated positively with cardiovascular disease. Those who drank three to five cups per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drank little to none. The reason may be that coffee helps to improve blood vessels’ control over blood flow and blood pressure.
May Help Slow the Progress of Dementia
A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease suggests that older adults with mild cognitive impairments were less likely to progress to full-blown dementia over the course of two to four years if they drank the equivalent of three cups of coffee per day.
May Protect the Liver
Coffee drinking appears to have liver-protective effects, possibly by decreasing harmful liver enzyme levels and by limiting liver scarring in people with Hepatitis C.
Might Reduce Melanoma Risk
In the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a study showed that those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of developing melanoma
Remember that all good things have a dark side. Excessive coffee intake could be harmful and those with certain conditions – such as acid reflux, insomnia or osteoporosis - may want to rethink their drink – or at least switch to decaf. Keep in mind as well that coffee is an adult beverage. Contrary to folklore, it does not stunt growth in children, but it can have other harmful effects, such as increased blood pressure and sleep disruption.
And remember that some special coffee drinks can be extremely high in calories. So while you enjoy your cup of joe today on National Coffee Day, remember to pay attention (and maybe skip) all the extras, such as sweetener, whipped cream, whole milk etc.
Rush University Medical Center
Harvard School of Public Health
By Tim Boyd from Brooklyn - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons