Is coffee good for you?
- Coffee’s discovery is linked to a legend from around 850 AD involving an Ethiopian goat herder who noticed that his goats became full of energy after consuming the leaves and fruit of what we now know to be the coffee bush.
- According to a recent Statista report, people in the Netherlands consume the most coffee per capita of any country in the world.
- Kopi luwak, a variety of coffee made from pre-digested coffee beans eaten by the Asian palm civet, is the most expensive coffee in the world, ranging between $35 to $100 per cup.
- Dr. Bob Arnot, who wrote “The Coffee Lover’s Diet,” claims that drinking at least three cups of coffee a day will “boost your metabolism and cardiovascular function, while spurring weight loss.”
To say something is good for your health entails that consuming it leads to better health outcomes than not having it. While perhaps not as bad as heroin, it is still difficult to suggest that drinking coffee is 'good.'
Caffeine, a key component of coffee, is a serious enough compound to be referenced by the Alcohol and Drug Foundation. It is considered a 'substance of dependence,' and withdrawal symptoms may include impaired cognitive performance, vomiting, tremors, and abdominal pain. Like most consumables, too much coffee is definitely bad for you, but even moderate amounts are detrimental to your health.
Coffee has been linked to decreased fertility. If, despite this, a woman becomes pregnant, even one cup of coffee a day can lead to miscarriage or a baby that is small for gestational age, which accounts for 'most of all neonatal mortality, as well as short-term and long-term morbidity.'
A 12-year study of over 1,200 young adults with no other risk factors found four times the risk of heart attack for heavy coffee drinkers, while moderate drinkers still tripled their risk. Having coffee can produce significant short-term effects for people with diabetes and has a clear link to panic and anxiety disorders.
On top of the effects of caffeine alone, one must also consider the common additives in a cup of coffee. Two-thirds of coffee drinkers add sugar, cream, or other additives to their drink, accounting for an extra 70 calories per cup. With the average American drinking two cups of coffee a day (and 10% of drinkers having more than six cups a day), this extra caloric intake adds up.
Coffee tends to get a bad rap because of its high caffeine content. But when consumed in moderation—which for most people is around 3 to 5 cups a day—the typical cup of joe is profoundly beneficial to the human body.
Studies show that those who consume coffee are generally thought to be in better health than those who do not. Individuals who enjoy a daily java have a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer's disease, a 32–60% lower risk of Parkinson's disease, an 84% lower risk of liver disease, and are even 20% less likely to develop depression. The caffeine in coffee has also been found to be effective in relieving headaches and migraines.
Since caffeine's main effect on the body is increasing alertness, coffee has been proven to improve energy levels and mental concentration. This is especially beneficial to athletes, as consuming a hot brew right before a training session has been shown to boost stamina and muscle performance.
Coffee also contains many essential nutrients, including manganese, potassium, magnesium, riboflavin, and niacin. The drink is even rich in hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that help prevent oxidative stress. And while it is possible to get these antioxidants from other foods, research has found that the typical individual consuming a Western diet receives more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables combined.
The health benefits of coffee are, therefore, more apparent than ever. As long as the drink is consumed without additives like cream or sugar, a daily cuppa is undoubtedly a healthy component of any diet.