That morning cup of java may be providing a lot more benefits than just giving you the energy to start your day. Numerous studies have shown that daily consumption of coffee can help you to live a longer, healthier life.
You may have heard of some of coffee’s many health benefits, but there may also be a few that you weren’t aware of.
Last year, the Harvard Gazette reviewed a number of studies and discovered “an emerging picture of coffee as a potentially powerful elixir” against a range of ailments, from cancer to cavities.
The scientific evidence continues to mount: Coffee is good for you!
And the good news just keeps on brewing. One of the most recent studies found that coffee consumption not only reduces the risk of death from heart attack, but also reduces mortality risk even after a person experiences an acute myocardial infarction.
But that’s just one reason to keep drinking the beverage that inspired Bach to write a cantata in its praise.
Here are a few of coffee’s scientifically-proven health benefits:
Overall Longevity: As mentioned above, coffee helps prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer, but several studies have shown that daily consumption also lowers the risk of death from several other illnesses, including type II diabetes and neurological disease.
Cancer Prevention: Coffee has been shown to play a role in the prevention of several types of cancers, including lethal prostate cancer, skin cancer, liver cancer and colorectal cancer.
Alzheimer’s Prevention: Several studies have found coffee to be effective in preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Parkinson’s Prevention: A recent study in Sweden showed that people with certain genetic predispositions may have increased resistance to Parkinson’s disease if they also consume caffeine.
Diabetes Prevention: One study showed that drinking six cups of coffee per day decreases the risk of developing type II diabetes by 22 percent. A review of several studies conducted by a Harvard researcher found that the risk of diabetes is lowered by 9 percent for each cup of coffee consumed daily.
Liver Health: Research has shown that coffee not only lowers the risk of liver cancer, but also helps to prevent cirrhosis of the liver.
Fighting Depression: Coffee has been shown to reduce depression and suicide risk. One study found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee daily “were 20% less likely to suffer from depression.”
Oral Health: Drinking black coffee helps kill tooth bacteria, but adding sugar or milk negates the effect. Coffee may also help to prevent gum disease.
Retinal Damage Prevention: The antioxidants found in coffee may prevent retinal damage caused by oxidative stress.
Gout Prevention: A study involving more than 50,000 men found that the risk of developing gout decreases as coffee intake increases.
DNA Protection: One study found that coffee strengthens DNA. The white blood cells of coffee drinkers showed significantly less spontaneous DNA strand breakage than that of non-coffee drinkers.
Multiple Sclerosis Prevention: Four or more cups of coffee per day may help prevent the onset and recurrence of multiple sclerosis. Recent research suggests that coffee prevents neural inflammation that may lead to the development of MS.
Muscle Pain Relief: Drinking two cups of coffee has been shown to cut post-workout muscle pain by nearly 50 percent.
Why is coffee so effective in preventing disease?
The actual mechanisms involved in coffee’s many health benefits aren’t entirely known, even though numerous studies have repeatedly proven its power to prevent many types of disease.
Although caffeine is one of the beneficial compounds, there are more than 1,000 others contained in the beverage, and it’s relatively unclear which ones provide the various proven disease-fighting effects.
What is known, however, is that coffee provides a powerful antioxidant effect, and that may be one key to many of its health benefits. Coffee provides more antioxidants for most people than any other source, according to one study.
It’s important to note that adding sugar or milk to coffee can decrease its beneficial effects; a little sugar or milk may be okay, but it’s best to drink it black. Artificial sweeteners and skim milk should also be avoided, cautions Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, Harvard Medical School professor and renowned coffee advocate.