For years, we’ve had it drummed into us that coffee is no good for our health. But is that really true?
Advice from dieticians, doctors and nutritionists is often conflicting and difficult to decipher, and the idea that coffee is “bad for you” appears to be a result of misunderstanding.
It turns out that coffee has some exciting health benefits that most of us haven’t been hearing about.
It Contains Antioxidants
Not only does coffee contain antioxidants, it rivals its cousin green tea. Green tea is commonly touted as being the ultimate antioxidant hit, but actually coffee can hold its own – if not beat it. Coffee is rich in flavonoids, which confer anti-inflammatory, antiviral and blood thinning effects.
So you shouldn’t feel quite as guilty about your coffee habit as some of your friends might want you to believe.
Prevents Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in the UK, but few of us are aware that coffee can help prevent this condition and help manage blood sugar levels. An American study of 43,000 found that drinking coffee achieved a significantly lowered risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Another study clarified that each cup of coffee we drink per day can result in a 7% decrease in your risk of developing the condition.
Just be careful not to squander these benefits by eating a poor diet.
Improves Liver Health
Maybe it’s no coincidence that you crave strong coffee after a night out on the town. Research suggests that coffee has a beneficial effect on your liver.
A review published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology shows that moderate coffee drinkers are much less likely to develop liver cirrhosis and certain types of liver cancer.
Just as before though, this isn’t a license to drink irresponsibly. No amount of coffee can save you from the negative health effects of regular excessive alcohol consumption.
Reduces the Risk of Dementia
According to research, moderate coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons or Alzheimers. These findings are only tentative for the time being and more research is needed to underpin this assumption.
However, anecdotal evidence and medical research are increasingly supporting the idea that coffee can help protect your cognitive function as you age. It is a possibility that this is no more than an energy boost from the caffeine hit, but further research will hopefully clarify this in the future.
So Is Coffee Really Good for You?
Moderate coffee drinking certainly carries a number of health benefits that may make you want to rethink those feelings of guilt many of us experience when we order a double espresso.
However, coffee drinkers routinely report a number of unwanted side effects, including jitters, restlessness, caffeine-induced headaches and irritability. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others and in such cases, it may be wise to steer clear of coffee altogether.
It’s also advised that you drink your coffee black as milk binds with the flavonoids in the coffee and reduces their efficacy.
For more information on the health benefits of coffee drinking, read our guide on how many calories are in coffee.