The brew can boost your health in some seriously surprising ways
Coffee is one hell of a drug. Every morning, you stumble down to the kitchen a bleary-eyed, bed-headed grump, but as soon as you chug some java, you’re ready to walk out your door with a big bounce in your step.
If you’re like 59 percent of Americans, you can’t get through your day without guzzling at least one cup of Joe. But beyond the obvious pick-me-up that coffee provides, you also see a slew of other health benefits every time you fill up your mug.
Here are 11 great reasons to drink coffee. Just remember: As with anything else, be careful not to go overboard.
After crunching the numbers from 28 studies and over 1 million participants, Harvard researchers found that people who drank just one cup of coffee a day were 8 percent less likely to develop diabetes than those who never had the beverage.
And the protection increased the more people chugged: People who downed 6 cups a day cut their risk of diabetes by 33 percent.
What’s the link? Coffee is high in a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar concentrations and their absorption in the intestines. The researchers believe this may explain some of the diabetes-protective effects they found.
Drowsy driving is a major cause of many road accidents, so it makes sense that you might need a pick-me-up before you get behind the wheel.Enter coffee: Researchers from the Netherlands found that people who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee in the middle of a 4-hour-long tedious driving task swerved less, maintained their speed better, and rated their driving as more responsible than those who sipped decaf.
Sipping some coffee might reduce your risk of experiencing a condition that many say hurts worse than childbirth: kidney stones. In a study at Harvard, people who drank one of more servings of java a day were 26 percent less likely to develop kidney stones than those who consumed it less than once a week.
Because of its caffeine content, coffee helps you pee more, which flushes your body of the excess calcium and sodium that can contribute to kidney stone formation, the researchers say.
Bored with your coffee? Drinking tea, wine, and beer was also associated with a decreased risk of those painful stones. Just don’t sub in soda—people who chug the sweet stuff each day are 23 percent more likely to get kidney stones, finds research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
People who consumed 200 milligrams of caffeine—slightly more than what’s in a Starbucks 8-oz blonde roast—after viewing certain images were better able to recall them 24 hours later than participants who didn’t have caffeine.
Caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine, so it can’t inhibit another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which plays a crucial role in helping you retrieve a memory, the researchers say.
Over the past decade, rates of liver cancer have risen by an average of 4 percent each year. Coffee might help reverse course: In a new study from the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, people who drank 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day were 38 percent less likely to develop liver cancer over an 18-year follow up than those who stayed java-free.
The researchers aren’t exactly sure why coffee may be so protective, but they believe it may be due to compounds inside the drink that lower liver enzymes and slow progression of liver disease.
Drinking a cup of coffee before hitting the gym might lead to some serious performance gains. Men who sipped a cup of Joe an hour before cycling completed their workouts about 5 percent faster than those who drank a control beverage.
The researchers believe the increase in performance is because caffeine prevents the compound adenosine in your body from binding to its receptors—which makes you feel higher levels of alertness and lower levels of exertion.
Researchers from the National Cancer Institute found that people who drank 4 or more cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, over a nearly 11-year follow up than those who drank none.
It’s possible that the chlorogenic acid in coffee can hamper the expression of an enzyme called COX-2, which occurs as result of exposure to UV rays. And this may help suppress the development of melanoma, the researchers believe.
Coffee might just be a liquid happy pill: A Finnish study found that men who drank the most coffee per day—about 27 ounces or more—were 77 percent less likely to develop depression than those who drank none.
What’s more, researchers from Harvard also discovered that people who had 2 to 3 cups a day of the beverage were 55 percent less likely to commit suicide than nondrinkers.
This might be because caffeine can act as a mild antidepressant by enhancing the transmission of mood-regulating dopamine, the researchers believe.
According to a study recently presented at the American Academy of Neurology meeting, coffee may reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a disabling neurological disease that hits most often between the ages of 20 and 40.
People who chugged 4 or more cups of Joe per day were 33 percent less likely to get the disease over the next year than those who didn’t drink any.
Coffee may dull your pearly whites a bit, but it also might help keep them in your mouth. Researchers from Boston University found that people who drank one or more cups of coffee each day had fewer teeth with bone loss—the hallmark of periodontal disease, which can cause your chompers to fall out—than those who drank less.
The antioxidants in coffee may be able to mute your body’s own inflammatory process that would otherwise harm your gums and jawbone, says study author Raul Garcia, D.M.D.
People who drank one cup of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t drink any, a study from Japan found. Once-a-day drinkers also cut their risk of heart disease by 16 percent.
The researchers aren’t sure how coffee may be so protective, but they point out that the beverage contains several biologically active compounds, such as caffeine, which have previously been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.