Coffee is one of the most frequently enjoyed beverages in the U.S., acting as a morning pick-me-up for adults across the country. But did you know that there are multiple health benefits of drinking coffee?
Not only does coffee have the power to increase cognitive functioning, it helps burn fat and boosts physical performance, lowers your risk of suffering from diseases, contains essential nutrients and antioxidants that help your body, and prolongs your overall lifespan.
Drinking Coffee is Good for Your Brain
It’s common knowledge that the most active ingredient in coffee is caffeine. Caffeine can do a lot more than just help you stay awake at work or school. Caffeine also stimulates the release of norepinephrine and dopamine, which support healthy brain functioning. Caffeine also increases the brain’s neuronal firing, which improves cognitive functions like memory, reaction time, focus, and attention span, all of which will help you get your work done quickly and efficiently.
Drinking Coffee Burns Fat and Boosts Physical Performance
There’s a reason why caffeine is a popular ingredient in many commercial fat burning and memory boosting supplements. The caffeine in coffee does double-duty as a booster for both your mind and your body. Caffeine boosts your metabolism, due partly to its stimulant effects on the central nervous system, helping with a slight increase in burning calories from food more quickly. Here’s a study that shows the ability of caffeine to increase your metabolic rate! (That’s not to say that you can now slack on your diet and make up for it by chugging several cups of coffee. At the end of the day, if you want to burn fat, you need to make sure that your body is expending more calories than you’re consuming – caffeine should be looked at as a slight enhancer to an already sound nutrition & workout program).
Caffeine also stimulates fatty acids found in your fat tissue to work for you by providing energy you can burn off during exercise. Caffeine works even harder to ensure that only good fats are stored in your body, while blocking the storage of bad fats. Once caffeine has optimized your body to burn fat most efficiently, your physical performance improves because your energy is being utilized to increase your overall endurance, meaning you can work out harder and longer.
Coffee Can Reduce Depression
Depression is a common, serious illness that effects nearly 5% of people in the US. It can happen to anyone, at any age. Relatively new research from Harvard found that drinking between two to four cups of coffee every day seems to cause a reduction in the risk of suicide in men and women by 50%. Additionally, another study from Harvard found that females that drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed.
While we aren’t suggesting that you should drink coffee as a way to cure feelings of depression (if you’re feeling depressed you should consult with a mental health specialist immediately), you can be reassured that drinking coffee is a positive thing.
Drinking Coffee Protects You from Diseases
Drinking coffee has been proven to lower the risk of contracting diseases like type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and some other types of cancer. This is because the antioxidants in coffee fight off free radicals that would otherwise damage the body and make it more susceptible to disease. The caffeine in coffee also boosts chemicals in the brain that protect neurons which are absent in a human brain suffering from neurodegenerative disorders.
Coffee Contains Essential Vitamins, Minerals and Antioxidants
Not only does a cup of brewed coffee contain the powerful stimulant of caffeine, it also contains small but valuable nutritional levels of the following:
- B1 (Thiamene) – 2% of the RDA (recommended daily amount) – often called the anti-stress vitamin, B1′s health benefits include helping the body to withstand stress as well as maintaining a healthy nervous system and improving the body’s cardiovascular functioning.
- B2 (Riboflavin) – 11% of the RDA – The B2 vitamin serves as an antioxidant that controls the play of free radicals so that your body can fight disease as well as help in preventing heart disease and cancer. Another health benefit of B2 is that it breaks down fat, protein, and carbohydrates to provide your body with energy. It’s also great for the skin as it not only helps to clear it but also to prevent acne and eczema.
- B3 (Niacin) – 2% of the RDA – B3 is important for keeping your cholesterol in check as well as preventing or even reversing heart disease.
- B5 (Pantothenic Acid) – 6% of the RDA – B5 is important for maintaining a healthy digestive tract as well as for helping the body utilize other vitamins, particularly B2.
- Manganese – 3% of the RDA – Useful for maintaining the health and density of your bones.
- Magnesium – 2% of the RDA – Great for keeping your blood pressure in check and your heart-rhythm steady.
- Potassium – 3% of the RDA – Potassium is helps your heart, kidneys and other vital organs work properly.
Pretty amazing for a drink brewed with hot water and dried, roasted beans!
Drinking Coffee Prolongs Your Lifespan
Because of all of the health benefits of drinking coffee, it has been proven to prolong a person’s lifespan. People who live longer are those who have healthy functioning brains, who are intelligent enough to make choices that will help them avoid life-threatening injuries and accidents, who have the ability to maintain physically fit bodies, who are consuming healthy nutrients and antioxidants to support their bodies, and who don’t suffer from diseases that come with a high risk of death.
Easy Iced Coffee Recipe
With it being summer and with all this talk about the health benefits of black coffee, I figured I’d leave you with an easy iced coffee recipe that uses a cold-brewing process to achieve a truly chilly nirvana. While you certainly could add ice cubes to hot coffee, I wouldn’t recommend it as this not only dilutes your coffee but your cup most likely won’t get truly cold. If that’s not enough motivation, then another reason to use a cold brewing process as opposed to plucking ice cubes in your hot coffee is due to coffee’s acid. When you cold-brew your coffee, you get a drink that’s 67% less acidic than it’s hot-brewed counterpart. Less acid allows you to taste coffee’s luscious fruitiness and has a less ‘burnt’ flavor profile.
How to Make Iced Coffee by Cold-Brewing
Makes 1 drink
Credit: The Kitchn
1/3 cup whole beans or about 8 tablespoons ground, coarse coffee (preferably whole coffee beans as this will allow you to achieve a much fresher, fuller iced coffee)
1 1/2 cups cold water (preferably filtered)
Coffee grinder (if you’re using whole beans)
- If you’re using whole beans, grind 1/3 cup and make sure to use a coarse setting. On the Burr Capresso that’s being given away (see below for your opportunity to win), I typically use the second coarsest setting.
- Take your ground coffee and put it in your French press along with 1 1/2 cups cold, filtered water.
- Use a wooden spoon or straw to gentle stir until the coffee and water are blended.
- Put the top on your French press but make sure that the plunger is in the up position.
- Refrigerate the French press for at least 12 hours for the best taste.
- Once you’re done with refrigerating, make sure to use the plunge to separate the coffee from the grounds.
- Fill a glass with ice cubes and pour. Feel free to use coffee and/or sweeteners if that’s your thing.
Drink Coffee Responsibly
As with any other food or drink, you should enjoy coffee in moderation. You can get the most health benefits out of coffee if you don’t add cream or sugar, which will just contribute extra calories and fat you don’t need. You also shouldn’t drink coffee in the afternoon or evening if you are very sensitive to caffeine, because it could keep you awake at night. As long as you are drinking coffee responsibly, you can enjoy the nuances of different blends of black coffee without guilt, knowing that every sip is supporting your health!