The health benefits of coffee

coffeeEnjoyed by millions of people around the world, coffee tends to be the beverage of choice for those looking for a caffeine hit to perk them up in the morning or to help overcome the afternoon slump in productivity. In actual fact, coffee contains more than one hundred different compounds, many of which can have significant health benefits. In contrast to those who argue that coffee is detrimental to health, there is new evidence and research which shows quite the opposite.

First and foremost, a large study held between two major organisations found that drinking four or more cups of coffee each day could reduce the risk of depression by 10%. The effect is thought to be caused by the antioxidants found in quality coffees, as no correlation could be found between improved mood and other caffeine beverages like cola. In fact, cola was seen to worsen the mood! Perhaps more significantly, however, a public study by the Harvard School of Public Health was able to show that between two and four coffees each day reduced the risk of a suicide attempt by a stunning 50%. Testing more than one hundred thousand people, the researchers showed that caffeine had a profound impact.

In terms of physical health, further benefits connected to coffee have also been explored. There have been several research projects into the fact that it appears caffeine plays a role in helping regulation of the liver. This has several impacts. For heavy drinkers, one cup of coffee per day was shown to reduce the risk of developing cirrhosis caused by alcohol by 20% in a study which lasted 22 years and assessed 125,000 individuals. The Mayo Clinic`s research has also shown that regularly drinking coffee in moderation can significantly reduce the risk of developing an unusual autoimmune disorder called PSC, which leads to cirrhosis, liver failure and possibly also to cancers of the liver. Numerous studies by different bodies have also found that those who drink coffee are up to 60% less likely to go on to develop degenerative disorders of the brain such as dementia and Alzheimer`s, with Parkinson`s disease reduced by between 32 and 60% as well. For these disorders, it is thought that the caffeine in coffee helps to encourage the body to metabolise the protein called `beta-amyloid` which is known to build up in the brain and is thought to cause the degenerative neurological conditions.

Caffeine and coffee are often used to boost performance and some studies even suggest that for a limited period of time, coffee can make people smarter and faster. Caffeine inhibits the brain`s neurotransmitters responsible for sleep, which also improves cognitive ability. Even military research has upheld these findings, with almost all quantifiable tests showing improvement when the subject was sleep deprived and offered coffee. Of course, with all of these health benefits and performance enhancement possibilities, the quality of the coffee itself will make a difference. Coffees at the lowest end of the available options will not perform as well; high quality coffees like those from Caffe Society and others use better quality beans treated with more care, likely to preserve as much of the health benefit as possible.

NB I use Lavazza coffee like this found here

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About the author

Emma Wight-Boycott MSc is a natural health advocate with a passion for simplifying the science. Emma works with postnatal mums, weekend runners and those with digestive issues to rediscover their health mojo!

0 comments on “The health benefits of coffee”

  1. britishexpatsinpng Reply

    I was feeling a bit guilty about my coffee intake – I won’t any more! I was using the excuse that we live in a country that produces some of the best coffee in the world but now I can cite the major health benefits of my coffee addiction 🙂

    • EmmaNutrition Reply

      It’s a cultural thing too: if you’re using local coffee it’s no doubt less processed. If it works for you and isn’t have any negative impact carry on (within reason of course)!

  2. Moira Reply

    I’m not a coffee drinker, and despite all the evidence I keep hearing/reading, I’m still not convinced it’s a net-good thing. I also think the coffee/alcohol connection is interesting since my friends that drink coffee are also the ones who drink the most alcohol!

    • EmmaNutrition Reply

      That’s an interesting point Moira; I’ve not specifically noticed that.
      It’s all about the quality, duration and volume of consumption. If you find coffee is not for you there’s probably valid reasons such as your adrenals are overwhelmed.
      Coffee as instant coffee is NOT good for you though!

  3. Kylie Hodges (@kykaree) Reply

    In the neonatal unit caffeine is used with premature babies to improve their oxidisation and prevent apnoea. It was so funny to me that I had avoided coffee in pregnancy then they were giving my son little vials of caffeine! I called it his espresso.

    I’ve always had espresso if I am having an asthma attack, it helps the reliever inhaler to work quicker. Amazing stuff.

    • EmmaNutrition Reply

      Thanks for that fascinating info Kylie! We’ve been through a NICU journey but I didn’t know that about caffeine. It does get a bad name when, if treated with respect, clearly can be medicinal.

  4. greeneyedguide Reply

    In discussing the benefits of coffee on mood, I’m glad you distinguished between coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages. This distinction fascinates me and I feel it’s often overlooked in other studies performed on coffee or caffeine in general.
    Danielle Robertson – author of Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: a guide to energy drinks

    • EmmaNutrition Reply

      Yes it’s like most things natural: they work synergistically and therefore best in their natural state with their fellow components supporting them 🙂

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