According to a 2018 study on from the National Coffee Association, 62% of adults over the age of 18 reporting drinking coffee every day. With more and more people throwing out their old coffee pots and exchanging them for the best keurig or buying the best espresso machine under $300, it’s no wonder that coffee consumption is at its highest level since 2012.
But despite the popularity of coffee, it seems that lover of caffeine always has that one family member or close friend who tells them too be careful not to drink too much coffee.
Why?!? There are so many health benefits to coffee that I don’t even know where to begin. Coffee increases your mental agility and can improve your memory, just for starters. It can reduce your risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, depression, suicide, multiple sclerosis, and type II diabetes, all while increasing life expectancy and improving DNA integrity.
There’s a lot of myths about coffee out there, and a lot about the amazing things that coffee can do, like improve focus or even boost productivity, but there are a lot of question marks surrounding the why of the matter. It’s really hard to pin these sorts of things down, which you quickly discover if you’ve ever Googled why we have to sleep every night or why we cry, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t theories.
In that same vein, there are a number of theories about why coffee has yielded such amazing results in the number of trials it’s been through. Let’s talk through some of these and see what’s concealed inside of these caffeinated beans.
It’s kind of crazy thinking that fruit conceals the delish beans that we roast and grind and dunk in hot water for our morning mug of the good stuff. Both the beans and the fruit are chock full of antioxidants.
In particular, the red cherry-like fruits are the most underrated parts of coffee in that regard, especially considering that they’re typically discarded entirely. Starbucks has stepped up the game in this area—try the Cascara line of coffee drinks and you’ll get a taste of the delicious coffee husk.
Even without the fruit coating, though, the roasted beans you consume every morning are still jammed with antioxidants.
Before we delve too much deeper into the punch that coffee’s packing, let’s chat a little bit about antioxidants and why they’re so necessary. For as much as we need to breathe, oxygen is directly linked to the creation of free radicals. These little buggers are molecules with an unpaired electron.
Just like we seek out our other halves using crappy dating apps on our cell phones, these free radicals slingshot around the body looking for their missing electron, and they don’t give a crap about busting some kneecaps along the way. Those kneecaps happen to belong to cells, proteins, and DNA strands.
Free radicals are linked to cancer, disease (like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s), as well as aging. Overall, this is called oxidative stress, especially when it’s left to run rampant in your body. You can probably see a pattern starting to form here.
Antioxidants remind those free radicals that they’re better than that and diffuses them before them can cause any more damage to themselves and your body. In fact, coffee provides more antioxidants than any other source we consume. I can even give you the names of those antioxidants and what they do, just to top this discussion off neatly.
Flavonoids may contribute to brain function, vision, and urinary tract health. They may also increase immunity and heart health, too. And your coffee cup is full of them.
You can find this antioxidant in a number of other common foods: apples, blueberries, strawberries, black beans, purple grapes, parsley, celery, citrus fruits… I mean, super reasonably, we could say that drinking a cup of joe is the same as eating your veggies and fruits.
These are what can make coffee bitter, but they also have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer. You can find them in persimmons, pomegranates, and green tea, which pretty much is its sole claim to fame. I can’t figure out any other reason why people would continuously drink that noxious stuff.
Whereas there are benefits to tannins and their presence in your coffee, keep in mind that they also prevent the absorption of iron, which can be great for some people and not-so-great for others.
This can only be found in coffee and it’s been shown to be anti-inflammatory (which we’ll get more into very shortly here) for the brain, improve memory, and reduce the risk of type II diabetes.
Inflammation can be helpful in small bouts against truly nasty invaders to the immune system or the body, but, like most things, outside of moderation it does a whole world of harm. It’s directly linked to diseases like arthritis, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and a host of other diseases, chronic illnesses, and problems, including depression.
It can be incited by seemingly harmless everyday things like white bread (refined carbohydrates) and red meat, but also by fried foods, processed meat, and lard. You can also find anti-inflammatory properties in everyday food sources, such as leafy greens, tomatoes, nuts, fatty fish, and, of course, coffee.
The summation of this is simple: an anti-inflammatory-filled diet will reduce your risk of diseases caused by inflammation, as well as the crappy side effects. Coffee can be the star of the anti-inflammatory show.
Why is coffee so good for you? For the reasons listed above and many, many more. While definitive answers are a little bit ahead of where we’re at in science right now, the evidence gathered so far and the results of numerous studies are pretty clear: coffee’s packed with a bunch of good benefits. Sip your morning mug, your mid-afternoon pick-me-up, your late-night jolt totally unashamed because that joe is practically medicinal.