Coffee is indeed one of the most widely consumed beverages around the world yet it’s often labeled as a “bad” habit since coffee generally contains high levels of the potent stimulant caffeine. Personally, I’ve been an avid coffee drinker for decades, typically starting most days with 1-2 cups and sometimes enjoying an additional semi-sweetened decaffeinated cup as dessert after a meal.
While this may seem a bit unorthodox to some, unbeknownst to many, coffee actually houses a ton of health-promoting nutrients, some of which function as disease-fighting antioxidants.
For instance, tocopherols and chlorogenic acid are widely present in coffee. These are plant-based compounds (phytonutrients) that possess powerful antioxidant properties and exert protective effects against numerous chronic diseases.
In fact, the tocopherols in coffee can help lower high cholesterol in ways that support heart health while the chlorogenic acid it contains has been shown to regulate blood sugar and insulin (the hormone that lowers blood sugar) levels, which is beneficial in the prevention and management of diabetes.
Coffee also contains key micronutrients (niacin, potassium, and magnesium) that support numerous bodily functions from nerve activity to metabolism. When consumed regularly, coffee may also lower the risk of cancers of the liver and colon, dementia related to Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and depression.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t reference the downsides of coffee consumption, which of course are primarily due to its caffeine content.
Indeed, all coffee contains caffeine, even the decaffeinated kind. Although the caffeine levels in coffee vary, generally an eight-ounce (one cup) serving of brewed coffee contains about of 95-200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Decaffeinated coffee levels are much lower averaging 5-15 mg in an eight-ounce cup.
In and of itself, caffeine can be quite habit-forming, particularly when consumed in excess. Potential effects of caffeine intake (or withdrawal) can include insomnia, irritability, headaches, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. In addition, excess consumption of caffeine (more than six cups of coffee a day) may also cause bone loss bone, which greatly increases the risk for fracture.
But, on the flip side, the stimulatory properties of moderate caffeine consumption can greatly increase your metabolic rate. This is a huge plus for weight loss seekers! The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you’ll burn at rest and during everyday physical activities.
This is one of my reasons for regularly drinking a cup of coffee just prior to working out. Believe it or not, a single cup can keep the metabolic rate elevated for up to 3 hours after consumption. Caffeine is also naturally thermogenic, which essentially means that it boosts your body’s ability to burn fat in a way that further supports weight loss and long-term weight control.
At the end of the day, in spite of its high levels of caffeine, there are clear health benefits associated with coffee consumption that far outweigh the potential risks.
If you’re a regular coffee drinker, you can avoid the potential risks associated with caffeine intake by simply limiting your consumption to more than 400 mg per day (about 3-4 cups). You might also find it beneficial to opt for lower doses of caffeine in the forms of decaffeinated coffee, high-quality coffee substitutes or even teas, as these have proven health benefits as well.
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Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.