Coffee is one of the most popular beverages around the world, with billions of cups consumed daily. Brewed from ground coffee beans, it is a drink that is enjoyed by nearly half of adults in the United States as a way to wake up in the mornings, stay alert during the day, or stay awake during late nights. Despite its popularity, it has also been the subject of scrutiny and concern when it comes to how it affects the health of those who consume one or more cups daily. In the past, coffee has been accused of causing problems that range from high blood pressure to diabetes. Fortunately for coffee-lovers, more recent research has changed many views on this matter. Studies have shown that coffee beans may actually provide a number of positive health benefits.
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If you're getting your coffee at a coffee shop, make sure to avoid all of those fancy specialty coffees (sweetened flavored lattes, frappuccinos, etc) as they are almost ALWAYS loaded with extra sugars or artificial sweeteners. Some of those fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks or other coffee shops can have 300-400 calories in just one coffee! Definitely not good for your body or your blood sugar or insulin levels.
Do you remember the first time you had a cup of coffee? More likely than not, you were in college and cramming for a final and your roommate suggested brewing up a batch. It might have been love at first sip, or you could have stomached your way through it, hoping it’d help you ace your test. Either way, now that you’re older (and hopefully, wiser), Pearson says to make sure you actually like coffee or if you’re using it as a band-aid to your poor sleep habits. “Coffee is a pick-me-up, but working toward a normal sleep pattern will make life much better than caffeine. If you’re using coffee to survive on inadequate sleep, your body and mind are still tired and you’ll still not be at your best physically and mentally,” she explains. “Chronic inadequate sleep raises stress hormones and contributes to a lot of health problems.”
Long term consumption of coffee has also been shown to reduce, although moderately, the risk of stroke (38). Another study pointed out that drinking about five or six cups of coffee a day is associated with the greatest reduction (39) (36%) in stroke risk, and that coffee also contributes to overall reduction of cardiovascular mortality (a less scary way of saying “heart death”).
Historically, it was first recorded as a drink just over 500 years ago, beginning on the Arabian peninsula, but there is a speculation that its use as a stimulating beverage stretches back more than 1,000 years in various ancient and indigenous cultures. Now, it is consumed in nearly every country of the world, and almost daily, even 5-6 times a day. While offices have larger machines, at home people often have single serve coffee makers which work best for the small requirements.
You might think that nonfat, sugar-free vanilla syrup is a healthy choice, but low-calorie doesn’t always translate to health benefits. Swinney suggests weaning yourself off sweeteners completely if you can, but if you can’t, be super picky about the additives you’re putting into your brew. “Pick organic cream to whiten your coffee or make your own packaging-free alternative milk from oats or nuts. Creamers often have artificial flavors, sweeteners, and other additives, so you’re better off using organic milk or cream plus organic brown sugar,” she says. Next, don’t miss these 13 surprising uses for coffee.
Similar to adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil is loaded with healthy fats, specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs have been linked to improved weight loss in multiple scientific studies. When it comes to brain health, coconut oil may also be largely beneficial. Some studies have examined the potential links between reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates and daily ingestion of coconut oil.
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Do you drink your coffee first thing in the morning? You may want to think again.”Caffeine causes sugar to release into the bloodstream, creating a spike in insulin and a resulting drop in blood sugar,” says health coach and nutritionist Kristie Santana. “This will cause your body to require even more sugar, which will lead to food cravings.” Additionally, studies have found that drinking coffee first thing in the morning interferes with our bodies’ production of cortisol, which can increase your tolerance to caffeine and make you more reliant on the drink.
If black coffee isn’t your thing, considering adding a little kick to your morning cup of joe with a little dash of cinnamon. Not only do the flavors mesh well together, but having a teaspoon of cinnamon every morning can help fight inflammation and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, among other benefits. “Cinnamon improves the way fat cells respond to sugar by increasing insulin sensitivity and helping to maintain blood sugar levels,” says Erinn Gregory, RDN.
Listen up, boys: According to a 2011 study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers and published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, regularly drinking coffee could lower your risk of developing prostate cancer because of its compounds do everything from reducing inflammation to regulating insulin. And get this: decaffeinated counts, too! And to learn more about prostate cancer, here one man reveals what it’s like to have.
A number of studies have suggested that consuming caffeine can reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease — and research published in 2012 in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology showed that a daily dose of caffeine equivalent to that found in two eight-ounce cups of black coffee can help to control the involuntary movements of people who already have the disease. (You'd have to drink nearly eight cups of brewed black tea to get the same amount of caffeine.)
To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends that adults consume 25 grams (or less) of sugar per day. One daily unhealthy choice when it comes to coffee, and you can say hello to 5 or 10 extra pounds in a month or two. To give you another example, a typical Frappuccino can weigh in at 66 grams of sugar – yikes. Drinking coffee black is a simple way to avoid all of these issues, but I will also give you some extra delicious tips to help spice things up.
Other studies have tried to pinpoint exactly what in caffeine is helping to halt the onset of these diseases. A 2014 study (14) found that caffeine blocks various tau receptors (a protein that contributes to brain cell degeneration). Another study found that caffeinated coffee increased GCSF (15) - a substance greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients - levels in the bloodstream.