That morning cup o’ jo might be healthier than you think it is! The American Chemical Society has identified coffee as the leading source of antioxidants in the American diet, and it packs a greater punch than dark chocolate or green tea. Let’s a take a closer look at what in coffee helps your health!
Scientists have identified over 1,000 antioxidants in unroasted coffee beans, and even more develop during the roasting process. These antioxidants, including quinines and magnesium, fight inflammation, neutralize free radicals, and work at the cellular level to protect from damage. Coffee also contains chlorogenic acid, a unique compound that is thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Coffee’s mitigating effect on inflammation can have a positive effect on a number of chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, and many forms of cancer, including colorectal, breast, and liver. Coffee, particularly caffeinated also lessens the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, both through its anti-inflammatory effects and by helping the body use insulin properly. The same insulin-regulating mechanism that guards against Type 2 Diabetes also protects against gout.
In addition to its physical health benefits, coffee has noticeable neurological and mental health benefits. It is theorized that coffee reduces the buildup of beta-amyloid plaques found in Alzheimer’s Disease, and thus it may protect against cognitive decline. These benefits may also be secondary to a reduced risk of Type 2 Diabetes, a major risk factor in developing AD. Coffee, via caffeine, also enhances athletic performance and mood by fighting fatigue, strengthening muscle contraction, reducing the perception of pain, and activating neurotransmitter pathways for dopamine and serotonin.
Because coffee contains caffeine, a mild stimulant, it should be used with caution. Caffeine temporarily increases blood pressure but is not thought to increase the risk of developing hypertension over time. High doses of caffeine (typically more than two cups of coffee per day) can lead to nervousness, iritability, anxiety, and insomnia. Caffeine is also addictive, and withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, headache, and fatigue. Coffee should be used with caution during pregnancy, as it has been associated with preterm delivery of low-birthweight babies. It is best not to drink more than two 8-oz cups of coffee daily. Coffee should also be consumed in the morning or early afternoon, as caffeine’s effects can take up to six hours to wear off.
Research done by Ms. Christina Perri