Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world.
Brewed from the roasted seeds of berries from certain Coffea species, it has been used for thousands of years – primarily for its stimulating effects.
However, despite its widespread popularity, coffee sometimes gets a bad reputation for being unhealthy.
Let’s take a look at what the research says about coffee!
Types of Coffee
Generally speaking, the two most popular types of coffee are arabica and robusta.
Coffea arabica, or Arabian coffee, is the most popular type of coffee bean. Arabica coffee tends to be sweeter and less harsh than its robusta counterpart.
Coffea robusta, or robusta coffee, makes up roughly 30% of coffee beans produced worldwide. While robusta beans are cheaper to make, they tend to taste more bitter than arabica.
Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits each provides.
Health Benefits of Coffee
Hundreds of research articles have been published on coffee’s health benefits. Here are some of the most prominent benefits, backed by high-quality research.
Coffee Energizes You
You probably know that coffee contains a stimulant called caffeine.
Simply put, caffeine works by blocking the neurotransmitter that tells your body that you’re tired, which increases your overall energy levels.
But did you know that caffeine may also improve your overall physical and mental performance?
Several studies found that caffeine may improve memory and alertness by activating various parts of your brain.
In fact, even small amounts of caffeine were shown to improve reaction time, auditory vigilance, and exercise performance.
Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
Coffee is packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In fact, a single cup of coffee is loaded with B-vitamins, magnesium, and potassium.
Furthermore, coffee has a strong antioxidant profile. Various research articles have cited it as being one of the richest dietary sources of antioxidants available.
The benefits of antioxidants are far more than can be explained here. But suffice it to say that hundreds of research articles have correlated high consumption of antioxidants with drastically lowered rates of certain cancers, heart diseases, cognitive decline, and more.
Just one cup of coffee was shown to have more antioxidants than many fruits and vegetables.
Improves Cognitive Function
Research has shown coffee to have some remarkable cognitive-enhancing properties.
Scientists believe that it has this effect for a few reasons. But the main reason is that the drink promotes the release of a hormone called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.
Simply put, BDNF promotes the generation of new brain cells. Studies correlate low expressions of BDNF with higher rates of cognitive conditions such as depression, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s.
To further endorse this, one research study found that individuals who consumed 3-5 cups per day had a 65% decrease in the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s later in life.
Another study found that coffee drinkers were nearly 30% less likely to experience depression symptoms than non-coffee drinkers.
Finally, as mentioned before, this drink may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is incidentally highly correlated with onset of Alzheimer’s.
May Lower Diabetes Risk
Research shows that coffee drinkers have lower instances of type 2 diabetes.
In fact, one paper followed nearly 200,000 individuals and found that those who drank more than 6 cups per day had the lowest risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
While the exact reasons for this are not yet known, many scientists believe that the antioxidants in the drink play a role.
That said, the research is a bit more mixed for people who do have diabetes. Like with any other food, keep an eye on your blood sugar levels, and speak with your doctor if you’re concerned.
Coffee drinkers tend to live longer.
In fact, one particularly large study followed over 100,000 men and women with no history of cardiovascular issues or cancer at the time the study began.
After adjusting for a variety of factors such as age and health habits, the researchers found some remarkable results. The people who drank at least two cups lived two years longer than those who drank none. What’s more, individuals in the study who drank 4-5 cups per day had a lower chance of dying from heart disease, stroke, diabetes, suicide, and more.
All this said, the study showed the importance of not going overboard. Participants who consumed more than 6 cups per day didn’t have any health benefits.
How Much Caffeine In a Cup of Coffee?
While it depends on a variety of factors, an 8-ounce cup of black coffee has roughly 100-125mg of caffeine.
That said, coffee and espresso drinks vary widely in caffeine content.
For example, one ounce of espresso has about 60mg of caffeine. So, a medium latte or cappuccino with two espresso shots has roughly 120mg of caffeine.
In contrast, one cup of green or black tea has roughly half the caffeine content, with roughly 50mg in 8 ounces of tea. Furthermore, a cup of decaf has only 2mg of caffeine.
Lastly, it’s important to keep in mind how much caffeine is actually in your drink. For example, a “grande” sized drink at Starbucks is a 16-ounce beverage with over 300mg of caffeine. If you have caffeine sensitivity, you’ll want to opt for smaller sizes. That said, growing evidence is showing a variety of benefits with caffeine.
The amount of calories in the drink varies widely based on what you’re putting in it. The calories in your drink start to accumulate the minute you start adding in things like cream and sugar. For example, adding a serving of cream and sugar to your drink will increase your beverage by over 100 calories.
How Many Calories In a Cup of Coffee?
That said, a cup of black coffee has less than 5 calories, which is virtually a negligible amount. Because of this, many individuals will drink black coffee during periods of intermittent fasting as a way to curb appetite while still remaining in their fasted state.
Generally speaking, the best and healthiest way to consume it is to drink it black.
Does Coffee Dehydrate You?
While some people think that coffee contributes to dehydration, the latest research shows that the opposite may be true.
Caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases how often you urinate. While some believe that this can dehydrate, it seems that you would need to consume over 500mg, or 5 cups, for there to be any significant dehydration effects at all.
In fact, this study showed no differences in individual hydration levels between coffee drinkers and non-coffee drinkers. So while many people might say this drink can dehydrate you, research appears to say that the opposite is true.
Does Coffee Raise Blood Pressure?
While many people believe that coffee raises blood pressure, there’s more to the story. Drinking coffee does seem to have a temporary hypertensive effect. In other words, it raises blood pressure in the short term. However, the effects are generally mild and don’t last long. It seems that our bodies get used to habitual consumption fairly quickly.
Remember, the main reason you want to avoid high blood pressure is that it may lead to heart and cardiovascular diseases over time. What’s interesting about coffee consumption is that longer-term studies have actually shown that increasing consumption was correlated with a decrease in cardiovascular disease over time.
So while the short-term spikes in blood pressure might not be good for people who are already hypertensive it appears that coffee does not have detrimental effects over the long term.
As always, consult with your physician before making any dietary changes or if you are concerned about the effect this drink might have on your heart.
Is Coffee Good For You?
Based on the research we’ve seen, it does seem the advantages of coffee consumption outweigh the disadvantages. In other words, yes coffee is good for you.
However, like anything, it is best when consumed in moderation. While many studies have demonstrated very clear benefits to drinking it, these benefits seem to drop off after 6 cups of coffee per day. Furthermore, if you’re pregnant, you shouldn’t have more than one cup per day.
Always talk with a trusted healthcare provider before making any dramatic lifestyle changes.