Today I wanted to write about one of the great loves of my life. No, it’s not a significant other, or a pet, or some electronic, soul-slurping gadget….nope, I’m talking about that steaming cup of black coffee that kick starts my day, every day. I love everything about coffee: the smell, the taste, the color, the warm excited feeling I get after I drink it. Without it, I feel sluggish and unfit for human interaction.
But, I can’t write about coffee, because I’m supposed to be writing about healthy things and coffee’s not healthy, right? As it turns out, more and more research is showing that the health BENEFITS of coffee consumption may outweigh the risks.
So, what are the benefits?
- Coffee has antioxidants (the good stuff found in many fruits and vegetables, not to mention tea, dark chocolate, and red wine). Actually, Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from anywhere else. Antioxidants lower your risk for heart disease and stroke.
- Coffee contains minerals like magnesium and chromium that help your body control blood sugar, thereby lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes.
- Studies have linked coffee consumption to lower risk for Parkinson’s, dementia (including Alzheimer’s), and liver diseases like liver cancer and cirrhosis
So, you don’t drink coffee (Gasp! That’s cool; we can still be friends). But maybe you’re a fan of the caffeine. GOOD NEWS! There are some benefits to moderate caffeine consumption, whether or not you get it from coffee:
- Improves brain function and alertness (duh, right?)
- Improves athletic performance (be sure to stay extra-hydrated to counteract caffeine’s diuretic effect)
- Increases levels of dopamine in the brain, which helps make you feel good
- Speeds metabolism and assists with fat breakdown in the body
- Reduces the risk of gallstones and gallbladder disease
Now, I’m not sayin you should start chuggin Redbulls and Rockstars in the name of good health. It may not stunt your growth, but too much caffeine can cause restlessness, insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and digestive troubles. Keep it healthy by
1) Avoiding caffeine 4-6 hours before bed
2) Limiting your consumption to 1-4 cups a day, and
3) NEVER mixing caffeine and alcohol
More info on coffee-drinking and your health:
More on caffeine and athletic performance: