The average American drinks three cups of coffee daily, according to Harvard School of Public Health. And that doesn’t even include the delicious adult beverages you can create. While many of us have been taught this is some sort of vice, there’s actually evidence drinking coffee boosts health. This caffeine-fueled substance is as popular as it is complex, so let’s dig deeper to see just what drinking coffee an do for you.
1. Improved cognitive function and memory
A study by Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins, and his team of researchers concluded that caffeine has a positive effect on our ability to form long-term memories, reported the John Hopkins News Network.
The study, which was published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, found that patients who had consumed a coffee cup’s worth of caffeine the previous day performed better on complex memory tasks than those who had not. Caffeine consumers were especially adept at pattern separation memory exercises, exercises which reflect a deeper and subtler level of memory retention. Health reports that, in addition to sharpening your memory, caffeine keeps your brain awake and alert.
2. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
Harvard School of Public Health says that the antioxidants in coffee have been shown to offer a degree of cardiovascular protection, adding that some studies have linked coffee to a possible decrease in the risk for heart disease. These same antioxidants can temper arterial inflammation, writes Eating Well. Moderate coffee drinkers (one to three cups per day) are even shown to have lower rates of stroke than non coffee drinkers.
Men’s Fitness notes that compounds in coffee also activate nitric acid, which widens blood vessels and leads to lower blood pressure among moderate coffee drinkers. Keep in mind that drinking too much coffee — generally, more than five cups per day — could sabotage these positive effects.
3. Decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Health reports that moderate coffee consumption can also protect your brain cells from the degenerative processes associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health backs up these claims, noting that coffee intake has been shown to stifle, if not prevent, the impact of certain neurological diseases.
The New York Times reported on a study by the University of South Florida and the University of Miami. This investigation examined older adults who displayed mild cognitive impairment: When the same subjects were again studied two to four years later, participants with little to no caffeine in their bloodstreams were likelier to have progressed to the full-blown stages of Alzheimer’s disease than those whose blood indicated they had consumed a moderate level of coffee or caffeine products.
4. Reduced risk for type 2 diabetes
Need more proof drinking coffee boosts health? The Harvard School of Public Health points out that moderate coffee consumption also reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is in itself a lifesaver, but consider the fact that type 2 diabetes is also a major heart disease risk factor on top of that, and you’ll be more thankful than ever that you picked up your cup of coffee this morning.
Eating Well suggests that certain antioxidant compounds in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid and quinides, may increase cells’ sensitivity to insulin, helping your body better regulate blood sugar.
5. Increased metabolism
Coffee’s caffeine content makes it a quick and natural metabolism booster. This helps speed up overall bodily function and can be a handy tool in facilitating weight loss and fat burning. Health reports that increasing your metabolism will also lower the risk of future weight-related problems — plus, it doesn’t hurt that black coffee itself has negligible caloric content, so don’t feel too guilty about enjoying a few cups with your breakfast!