Coffee often gets something of a bad rep – as a drink that makes you a bit hyper, something that you’re likely to get easily hooked on, or a treat that should be saved for special occasions because it’s not worth the calories. In actual fact, like everything else in life, if you drink too much coffee then, no, it’s not going to be good for you, but consumed in moderation – the way that it’s meant to be drunk – coffee is absolutely fine. In fact, more than that, it can actually be good for you. Whilst this may come as a bit of a shock to those who feel guilty about their daily caffeine hit, there are some pretty impressive health benefits of coffee. Here are a few of them:
Coffee acts like a painkiller
Ok so not a health benefit per se, but definitely an advantage. If you’ve ever been suffering from a heavy session in the gym the day before, some minor back pain or other aches and strains then you will often find that drinking a humble cup of coffee can bring you right back into working order again. Although the effects will wear off with the coffee, the body has often relaxed enough during the coffee buzz to have given muscles the chance to release and your body to realign.
Coffee improves your memory
New research into the effects of coffee suggests that drinking a daily cup can actually improve your memory – both long term and short term – as well as enhancing brain function. It is also thought to be beneficial to your thought processes, which is a huge advantage if you’re the kind of person who needs to think quickly on their feet. For example, there is evidence that someone with caffeine in his or her system is less likely to experience ‘tip of the tongue’ syndrome where you just can’t remember something that is on the tip of your tongue.
Coffee can reduce disease
Coffee contains antioxidants which have been proven to lower the risk of a range of diseases, from heart disease through to diabetes and certain types of cancers. A US study found that the average adult consumes 1,299 milligrams of antioxidants daily from coffee. By way of comparison, bananas provide 76 milligrams and corn 48 milligrams. It is also thought that coffee may even have a positive effect on preventing dental cavities (as long as you don’t add sugar…), as well as relieving the effects of asthma.
Coffee can help with digestion
I.e. it can keep you regular! Any coffee drinker will have experienced the effect of a rather large cup of coffee – or indeed too much coffee – on the insides, but drunk in moderation coffee can be a good aid to ensuring that everything keeps moving in the right direction. The stimulant in the coffee encourages muscle contractions in the digestive tract, which is what triggers activity after you have consumed a cup. There are all sorts of reasons why it is a good idea to stay regular, including preventing certain types of bowel disease, and whilst coffee is no substitute for a fibre rich diet, it can be a big help.
Coffee can reduce the risk of a stroke
Despite the fact that coffee is a stimulant, research has shown that women who drink more than one cup of coffee each day can decrease their risk of a stroke by up to 25%. The reasons why coffee can help reduce the risk of a stroke are not entirely clear, but it has been speculated that the coffee could reduce inflammation or improve insulin resistance, which are both keys to lowering stroke risk.
So there are clearly plenty of health benefits to drinking coffee that more than justify your daily dose – which will be a relief for those who can’t start the day without it! As with everything, as soon as you overdo it then the benefits are completely lost, so savour your coffee and enjoy in moderation for a guilt-free cup.