Written by Matthew Swift, PBGH Intern from Duquesne University
Nothing beats a morning coffee. No matter how your day shakes out, with work, travel, or a day off, it is not hard to imagine a coffee in your hands. Nearly 75% of Americans reported daily consumption of the beverage. Even writing this, I have a mug full of it sitting right next to me. Regardless of the way you take your coffee, my preference is iced with a splash of oat milk and 2 Splendas, the main reason you consume the beverage is probably as a pick me up. Recent scientific research around the subject is beginning to suggest that steaming cup of java you enjoy might just be doing more than just perking you up. Beyond its rich aroma and bold flavor, coffee has long been a subject of research, revealing an array of health benefits. From potentially boosting brain power to protecting against chronic diseases, coffee has become a topic of discussion in the research world. In this blog post, we will look into the fascinating world of coffee and uncover some of the compelling ways it can contribute to your overall health!
Coffee is a Mental Stimulant
Perhaps the most famous health benefit derived from coffee is its ability to energize and improve focus. This benefit comes from the stimulant caffeine, a psychoactive drug naturally found in the drink. An eight fluid ounce cup of coffee typically contains anywhere from 80 – 100mg of caffeine.
It works by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain. These are neurotransmitters that induce drowsiness. By inhibiting adenosine, caffeine boosts cognitive function, including memory, attention, and reaction time. Caffeine usually takes anywhere from 5- 30 minutes to start functioning and the effects can last up to 12 hours (9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You). Next time you need a mental boost, coffee could be your answer!
Coffee May Reduce Risk of Chronic Disease
In addition to its cognitive prowess, recent scientific literature suggests that daily coffee consumption can reduce the risk of some chronic conditions. A recent study out of Clinical Nutrition showed that consumption of ground coffee is linked to reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (Ochoa-Rosales). While the mechanisms of this process remain unclear, some other studies in the field found up to a 4% decrease in risk of disease (Ochoa-Rosales). Additionally, coffee has also shown promise in protecting against Parkinson’s disease by enhancing dopamine production (Caffeine and Dementia.). Alzheimer’s disease, another debilitating neurological disorder, may also be mitigated by coffee’s neuroprotective properties (Caffeine and Dementia.). While these studies are less conclusive it is clear that long term benefits exist from coffee consumption.
Coffee Can be Heart Healthy
Moderate coffee consumption may also have some heart-healthy benefits. Research findings indicate that black coffee may reduce the risk of heart failure (9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You). The antioxidants in coffee play a role in reducing inflammation and improving blood vessel function (9 Reasons Why (the Right Amount of) Coffee Is Good for You). However, it’s important to note that excessive coffee consumption or adding excessive sugar and unhealthy fats can have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. Balance and moderation are key.
Coffee Can Be a Mood Booster
Sometimes it seems like a cup of coffee can change boost your whole vibe. Well, science explains this. Coffee consumption has been linked to a lower risk of depression and a decreased likelihood of suicide (Drinking Coffee Can Reduce Depression Risk by up to One Third.). Caffeine stimulates the release of dopamine and serotonin. These are neurotransmitters associated with pleasure, mood regulation, and overall well-being. This results in reducing the risk of depression by almost 33%.
“Caffeine and Dementia.” Alzheimer’s Society, 8 Mar. 2023, www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/risk-factors-and-prevention/caffeine-and-dementia.
“How Coffee Helps Lower Type 2 Diabetes Risk: New Clues on Mechanism.” Medical News Today, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/new-research-reveals-a-potential-mechanism-for-how-coffee-may-reduce-the-risk-of-type-2-diabetes#Large-data-set-on-coffee,-type-2-diabetes. Accessed 16 June 2023.
Ochoa-Rosales, Carolina, et al. “C-Reactive Protein Partially Mediates the Inverse Association between Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: The UK Biobank and the Rotterdam Study Cohorts.” Current Developments in Nutrition, vol. 5, 2021, p. 1070, https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzab053_063.