Health Benefits of Coffee

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Everyone loves coffee (well, almost everyone). It is the third most consumed beverage in the world (after water and tea). In fact, according to the National Coffee Association, more than 60 percent of Americans get their java fix every day, drinking an average of 3 cups. Some people get hooked on it for the energy boost, and others for the taste. Some people even enjoy it in a warm mug after a big meal or pair it with dessert. You can have hot, cold, strong, weak or all in one shot. This drink is universally enjoyed and for good reason. But how many calories and how much caffeine does a cup of coffee actually have? Why is it so good for you? We delve into what coffee can do for your heart, brain, liver and mood. Spoiler alert: Here’s good news for coffee drinkers.

coffee nutrition

There are many things about coffee that are often overlooked. Coffee beans are rich in powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as chlorogenic acid and tannins, Cornelis explains. (In fact, coffee is a major source of antioxidants in the American diet. Each of these compounds acts uniquely on the body to protect you from various health problems. For example, chlorogenic acid is thought to Regulate insulin and reduce body fat, two factors that enhance metabolic function.

Here are the nutrients in one cup (8 ounces) of regular brewed coffee :

  • 5 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 0 grams of carbohydrates
  • 1 gram of fiber
  • 0g fat

While it’s not macronutrient-rich, coffee (in itself) is a low-calorie beverage that contains several potentially healthy ingredients and is surprisingly high in several nutrients (who knew it had fiber! Remember, the cream and Sugar can add more calories than you realize, especially if you buy flavored coffee drinks from a coffee shop. Try adding coffee in moderation to get the most health benefits.

caffeine in coffee

The question of how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee doesn’t have an easy answer. Many factors, including the brewing method and the amount of coffee used, can affect caffeine levels. The long steep times used to make cold brew coffee can cause more caffeine to be extracted from the coffee grounds and end up in your cup. It’s also important to note that pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg or less per day, which is about the amount in two cups (8 oz) of brewed coffee. Yes, when it comes to coffee and caffeine, size matters. This caffeine content list is for an 8-ounce serving, which is about the size of a small coffee cup (a “short” coffee cup from Starbucks). Many thermoses and large coffee mugs weigh much more than 8 oz. Here are the average caffeine levels in 8 ounces of several types of coffee:

  • Regular brewed coffee: 92 mg
  • Decaffeinated brewed coffee: 2 mg
  • Instant coffee: 62 mg
  • Starbucks Blonde Roast Coffee: 180 mg
  • Starbucks dark roast coffee: 130 mg
  • Espresso (1 2 oz): 127 mg
  • Cold Brew Coffee:  283 mg

Health Benefits of Coffee

The potential benefits of coffee run from your head to your toes. Here are some highlights.

heart disease

When you sip your morning tea, you probably don’t think you’re doing your heart some good. Think twice! While coffee can increase blood pressure for up to three hours after consumption (people with high blood pressure are advised not to drink large amounts of coffee), studies have not linked daily coffee consumption to negative effects on blood pressure and heart disease risk in the long run .

In fact, a 2018 review in the Journal of Agricultural & Food Chemistry found that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day was associated with a 15 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease in healthy people. And no negative effects of higher consumption levels were found. That said, the American Heart Association notes that some recent studies have had conflicting results, and notes only that “moderate coffee consumption (1-2 cups per day) does not appear to be harmful.

Scientists consider several components of coffee, and their interactions, for its potential heart benefits. One is an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid. This polyphenol is also found in grapes and berries, and coffee actually has more per serving than blueberries. Caffeine dilates blood vessels, and its anti-inflammatory properties boost blood flow.

brain health

Two to four cups of coffee a day seems to be the sweet spot for a healthy brain. A review in Practical Neurology found that drinking this much coffee had positive effects on brain health, including improved alertness, concentration and well-being. Other potential long-term benefits of moderate coffee consumption include a reduced risk of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Another meta-analysis published in Clinical Nutrition echoed the finding that moderate coffee consumption can protect against cognitive decline. In the short-term, caffeine can help relieve pain associated with headaches and migraines.

It is thought that two components of coffee, chlorogenic acid and EHT (eicosoxayl-5-hydroxytryptamine), may have synergistic effects in protecting against Parkinson’s disease and dementia. Research is ongoing to understand how caffeine affects the brain, but so far, it looks promising for coffee drinkers.

diabetes

A new study in Contemporary Diabetes Reviews found that people who drank four to seven cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who drank fewer than two cups a day, especially those over the age of 60. Other research published in Diabetes Care found that as coffee consumption increased to six cups per day, the risk of developing type 20 diabetes decreased over 2 years. This can also be attributed to the caffeine found in coffee.

A 2018 meta-analysis of 30 studies (including more than 50,000 participants) found that those who drank the most coffee (about 29 cups per day) had a <>% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who ditched it.

As yet another reminder from these diabetes studies, be mindful of what you’re putting in your coffee. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking caffeinated and decaffeinated sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda, significantly increased the risk of diabetes, while drinking coffee reduced the risk by 4 percent to 8%. If you do drink coffee and want the blood sugar benefits, limit your added sugars.

mood booster

In addition to waking you up, coffee can dramatically improve your mood and outlook. Drinking up to four cups of coffee a day has been shown to reduce the risk of depression and ease symptoms of depression in women. Additionally, some studies have found that drinking two to four cups of coffee per day can reduce the risk of suicide.

In light of such findings, caffeine has also been investigated as an option for complementary treatment of depression. That doesn’t mean coffee will completely replace doctor-prescribed medications, but the promising findings could improve the effectiveness of traditional depression treatments.

Less surprisingly, there is plenty of evidence that coffee can help boost productivity by improving mental alertness, visual attention, and reaction time . Coffee can also make you feel more supported and, in turn, more sociable (cue office small talk).

liver health

Once again, coffee’s antioxidants are thought to have potential benefits for many liver diseases. While the exact mechanism is unknown, there is a strong association between coffee consumption and reduced risk and improved outcomes for several liver diseases, including liver cancer, chronic liver disease, and hepatitis C.

From your head to your heart, a range of potential benefits has been linked to moderate daily coffee consumption. Drinking two to four cups a day may help keep your heart healthy, stave off cognitive decline and improve symptoms of depression. At the very least, a cup or two of coffee can be healthy and refreshing. Be mindful of how much sugar and cream you add, as such add-ons may start to negate some of your mug’s beneficial effects, but keep enjoying your morning joe and feel good.

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