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Health Benefits of Coffee

Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 08, 2020

Where would society be without coffee? This beloved beverage sharpens focus, improves mood, and helps people be more productive. It's easy to see why it plays such an important role in everything from the modern workplace to the alternative music scene.

Humans have long depended on coffee for a caffeinated boost. While it’s unclear exactly when coffee was first consumed, historic evidence shows that it was prized as early as the 15th century. Most historians agree that coffee originated in the Islamic world, where it was closely tied to several important religious practices. With Ramadan, for example, it helped people abide by fasts during the day and stay awake at night.

Today, coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. It is primarily grown in a region of the globe known as the "bean belt," which includes most of Central and South America, as well as sections of Ethiopia and Indonesia.

Health Benefits

Coffee is an excellent source of several antioxidants, including hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. These compounds may play a role in preventing several chronic and acute conditions. 

The following are some of the most notable health benefits of drinking coffee:

Cancer P revention

Coffee may play a role in reducing the risk of several types of cancer. Studies find that people who drink coffee regularly are less likely to develop prostate cancer. Additionally, the caffeine in coffee may help prevent everything from nonmelanoma skin cancer to endometrial cancer.

Reduce the Risk of Diabetes

Some studies indicate that regularly drinking caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee may reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. As a bonus, the caffeine in coffee does not have a notable impact on blood sugar.

Prevent Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease

Coffee consumption is linked to a decreased risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. For people currently diagnosed with Parkinson's, drinking coffee may help reduce the frequency of tremors.

Nutrition

Nutrients per Serving

A single cup of brewed coffee contains:

Things to Watch Out For

Coffee may be low in calories when enjoyed black, but adding cream and sugar can quickly make it less healthy. If you dislike the bitter taste of black coffee, try it with a small amount of low-fat milk or a milk alternative, such as almond milk.

Be sure to drink plenty of water when consuming coffee, as the beverage acts as a diuretic and can increase the risk of dehydration. Limit your coffee intake if you are pregnant or have high blood pressure.

How to Prepare Coffee

Coffee can be purchased directly from roasters, at specialty shops, or at the grocery store. A variety of factors influence what type of coffee you should select. Many enthusiasts prefer beans from specific regions or specific roasters. Some people prefer the convenience of buying ground beans while others buy whole beans and grind them at home to ensure freshness.

The brewing method also matters. While many people use coffee machines, coffee can also be prepared in a percolator, with a French press, through cold-brewing, and via many other methods. Effort-intensive methods that emphasize freshness tend to deliver the best flavor, although quality beans can still produce a great pot via an ordinary drip coffee maker.

Coffee may be enjoyed as either a hot or iced beverage, but there are also plenty of options for incorporating it in your cooking or baking. Give these ideas a try:

  • Blend iced coffee with frozen banana, yogurt, and chocolate protein powder to create a mocha smoothie.
  • Add brewed coffee to french onion soup to increase its savory flavor.
  • Prepare oatmeal using brewed coffee and milk and throw in additional toppings, such as chia seeds or maple syrup.
  • Use coffee and garlic to simmer a pot roast in the slow cooker.
  • Combine coffee with red wine and capers to add enticing flavors to beef stew.
  • Infuse coffee in your favorite rice pudding to make a mocha-flavored version.
  • Mix cooled coffee with balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and garlic to create a unique dressing for salads.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

British Journal of Cancer: "Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Prostate Cancer—The Ohsaki Cohort Study."

Frontiers in Neuroscience: "Phenylindanes in Brewed Coffee Inhibit Amyloid-Beta and Tau Aggregation."

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment: "Cadmium in the Shore Crab Carcinus Maenas Along the Norwegian Coast: Geographical and Seasonal Variation and Correlation to Physiological Parameters."

International Journal of Cancer: "Coffee Drinking and Risk of Endometrial Cancer–A Population-Based Cohort Study."

Mayo Clinic: "Caffeine—Does it Affect Blood Sugar?"

National Geographic: "The World's Top Drink."

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