I love coffee.
I honestly believe that the best part of a new day is starting it with a warm, strong cup of quality coffee.
If someone were to make me quit drinking it, they would have to pry the cup out of my cold, dead hands.
Still, to be honest, there are some negative effects.
If I don’t get my caffeine one day then I will get a headache and feel tired. It is addicting and leads to withdrawal, that is a fact.
Also, if you’ve got a high blood pressure or are pregnant, then you may want to avoid coffee or at least talk to your doctor about it.
Still, for otherwise healthy people, coffee may provide a range of health benefits.
Here are 13 ways coffee can improve your health.
1. Coffee Can Improve Cognitive Function
In a large cross-sectional study of 9003 british adults, coffee was associated with improved performance in all metrics measured. Tea also provided a small effect (1).
Many studies have confirmed that it does produce significant cognitive benefits, at least in the short term (2).
I can vouch for this myself, as I feel that coffee drastically improves my focus when studying (or writing blog posts – yes, I have a cup in my hand right now).
2. Coffee May Improve Physical Performance
For this reason, it may be a good idea to have a strong cup of coffee right before a workout.
3. Coffee Increases the Metabolic Rate and Enhances Fat Burning
Caffeine is a stimulant, and one of its effects is to raise the metabolic rate, primarily mediated by an increase in fat oxidation. Unfortunately, it is less pronounced in obese individuals (7, 8, 9).
This is most likely due to caffeine raising epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in the blood.
If you look at the ingredients labels, you will find caffeine in most commercial fat burning supplements (which I don’t recommend).
4. Coffee Reduces All-Cause Mortality (Your Chances of Dying)
I know of several people who believe coffee to be harmful to health.
However, this has never been proven and is one more example of “conventional wisdom” being at odds with what the actual studies reveal.
5. Coffee Does Not Increase Heart Disease Risk
It is often claimed that coffee is bad for your heart.
This has never been confirmed, and the long term studies usually do not show a significant association between coffee and heart disease.
6. Coffee May Decrease Your Risk of Stroke
7. Coffee Drastically Cuts Type II Diabetes Risk
Type II diabetes is a disease that is reaching epidemic proportions in affluent nations around the world.
Interestingly, consumption of coffee has a large protective effect against type II diabetes, with numbers ranging from 23% to 67% reduction in risk. This disease affects almost 300 million people around the world (17, 18, 19).
One large meta-analysis found that, for each additional cup of coffee per day, the risk of type II diabetes decreased by 7% (20).
8. Coffee Reduces Chances of Getting Parkinson’s Disease
You’ve probably heard of Parkinson’s disease before. It is a degenerative disease in the central nervous system, caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain. Most pronounced are movement difficulties, followed later by cognitive impairment and dementia.
Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, after Alzheimers, and afflicts about 1% of the population above 60 years of age (21).
Interestingly, smoking also seems to lessen the chances of getting Parkinson’s, but it will kill you by other means, of course.
9. Coffee is Good For Your Liver
Coffee may be protective for your liver, an organ that performs hundreds of different functions in the body and is vulnerable to modern insults such as alcohol consumption.
Several studies show an inverse relationship between coffee and liver cancer, with a risk reduction of up to 31% for people without a family history, and 44% for those who do have a family history of liver disease (25).
Coffee is also highly protective against liver cirrhosis, which can be caused by excess alcohol consumption, fatty liver and hepatitis. Those who drink 4 or more cups per day are 80% less likely to develop cirrhosis (26, 27).
10. Coffee May be Protective Against Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world, and dementia is becoming an increasingly larger problem as the population grows older.
Caffeine is inversely associated with the risk of developing both Alzheimer’s disease and dementia in several epidemiological studies, some of them showing a risk reduction as high as 65% (28, 29, 30).
11. Coffee May Lessen Your Risk of Getting Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer death, and the second and third most common cancer diagnosed in women and men, respectively (31).
Given that 0.5 million people die every year from colon cancer, this is a significant finding.
12. Coffee Contains Some Vital Nutrients
There are some nutrients that coffee contains in small amounts.
According to Nutrition Data, a cup of coffee provides 11% of the RDA of Riboflavin (B2), 6% of the RDA for Pantothenic Acid (B5), 2% of the RDA for Niacin (B3), Thiamine (B1) and Magnesium, as well as 3% of the RDA for Manganese and Potassium.
These are not large numbers, but if you consider someone who drinks 3 cups per day, then you can multiply these percentages by 3.
This can make a significant difference for people who don’t eat a nutritious diet.
13. Coffee Contains a Lot of Antioxidants
Most of the studies above are epidemiological in nature, and it is impossible to prove an association with these sorts of studies, but all those studies suggest that coffee provides significant health benefits and protection against disease.
I’d like to mention that filtered coffee is best. Unfiltered coffee may contain harmful substances known as diterpenes, which can have an adverse effect on blood lipids. Paper filters effectively remove these substances.
It also goes without saying, that if you load your coffee with sugar or other sweeteners then you’re probably going to negate some of the health benefits you may get from the coffee.