Reasons to Drink Coffee

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Your daily cup of coffee may be doing more for you than providing that
early-morning pick-me-up. The health impact of coffee has long been a
controversial topic, with advocates touting its antioxidant activity and
brain-boosting ability, and detractors detailing downsides such as
insomnia, indigestion and an increased heart rate and blood pressure.
But the latest wave of scientific evidence brings a wealth of good news
for coffee lovers. Here are ten reasons drinking coffee may be healthier
for you than you thought.


1. Coffee is a potent source of healthful antioxidants.

In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and
cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified
approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and
hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have
cited coffee as a majorand in some cases, the primarydietary source of
antioxidants for its subjects.


How it works: Antioxidants fight inflammation, an underlying cause of
many chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and many
types of cancer. They also neutralize free radicals, which occur
naturally as a part of everyday metabolic functions, but which can cause
oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease. In other words,
antioxidants help keep us healthy at the micro-level by protecting our
cells from damage. Finally, chlorogenic acid, an important antioxidant
found almost exclusively in coffee, is also thought to help prevent
cardiovascular disease.


2. Caffeine provides a short-term memory boost.

When a group of volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams (mg) of
caffeine, about as much contained in a single cup of coffee, Austrian
researchers found a surge in the volunteers brain activity, measured by
functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory
task. The researchers noted that the memory skills and reaction times of
the caffeinated volunteers were also improved when compared to the
control group who received a placebo and showed no increase in brain
activity.


How it works:  Caffeine appears to affect the particular areas of the
brain responsible for memory and concentration, providing a boost to
short-term memory, although its not clear how long the effect lasts or
how it may vary from person to person.


3. Coffee may help protect against cognitive decline.

In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory,
regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated
with Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia. In one promising
Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of
coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk
of Alzheimers and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study
authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline,
but found no association.


How it works: There are several theories about how coffee may help
prevent or protect against cognitive decline. One working theory:
caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute
to the onset and progression of Alzheimers. Researchers also theorize
that because coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of
type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, it also lowers the risk for
developing dementia.


4. Coffee is healthy for your heart.

A landmark Dutch study, which analyzed data from more than 37,000 people
over a period of 13 years, found that moderate coffee drinkers (who
consumed between two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of
heart disease as compared to heavy or light coffee drinkers, and
nondrinkers.


How it works: There is some evidence that coffee may support heart
health by protecting against arterial damage caused by inflammation.


5. Coffee may help curb certain cancers.

Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive
prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of
Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily
decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as
compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. Researchers have
also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of
liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.


How it works: Polyphenols, antioxidant phytochemicals found in coffee,
have demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties in several studies and are
thought to help reduce the inflammation that could be responsible for
some tumors.


6. Coffee may lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A growing body of research suggests an association between coffee
drinking and a reduced risk of diabetes. A 2009 study found that the
risk of developing diabetes dropped by 7 percent for each daily cup of
coffee. Previous epidemiological studies reported that heavy coffee
drinkers (those who regularly drink four or more cups daily) had a 50
percent lower risk of developing diabetes than light drinkers or
nondrinkers.


How it works: Scientists believe that coffee may be beneficial in
keeping diabetes at bay in several ways:  (1) by helping the body use
insulin and protecting insulin-producing cells, enabling effective
regulation of blood sugar; (2) preventing tissue damage; and (3) and
battling inflammation, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  One
component of coffee known as caffeic acid has been found to be
particularly significant in reducing the toxic accumulation of abnormal
protein deposits (amyloid fibrils) found in people with type 2 diabetes.
Decaffeinated coffee is thought to be as beneficial, or more so, than
regular.


Note: There is some evidence that coffee decreases the sensitivity of
muscle cells to the effects of insulin, which might impair the
metabolism of sugar and raise blood sugar levels.  The significance of
this finding, however, is still unclear.


7. Your liver loves coffee.

Its true: In addition to lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee
consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis,
especially alcoholic cirrhosis. A study in the Archives of Internal
Medicine demonstrated an inverse correlation between increased coffee
consumption and a decreased risk of cirrhosisa 20 percent reduction for
each cup consumed (up to four cups).


How it works: Scientists found an inverse relationship between coffee
drinking and blood levels of liver enzymes. Elevated levels of liver
enzymes typically reflect inflammation and damage to the liver. The more
coffee subjects drank, the lower their levels of enzymes.


8. Coffee can enhance exercise performance.

Weve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of
the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and
post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine
consumptionup to about 500 mg, or about 5 cups per daydoesnt
dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In
addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.


How it works: Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer; not only
does it fight fatigue, but it also strengthens muscle contraction,
reduces the exercisers perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in
the blood, which supports endurance.


9. Coffee curbs depression.

Multiple studies have linked coffee drinking to lower rates of
depression in both men and women.  In several studies, the data
suggested an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and
depression: in other words, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the
lowest risk (up to 20 percent) of depression.


Read: Coffee: Will a cup a day help keep the doctor away?

How it works: Researchers arent yet sure how coffee seems to stave off
depression, but it is known that caffeine activates neurotransmitters
that control mood, including dopamine and serotonin.


10. Coffee guards against gout.

Independent studies on the coffee consumption patterns of men and women
suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces the risk of developing
gout. Researchers in the Nurses Health Study analyzed the health habits
of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found a
positive correlation between long-term coffee consumption and a
decreased risk for gout. The benefit was associated with both regular
and decaf consumption: women who drank more than four cups of regular
coffee daily had a 57 percent decreased risk of gout; gout risk
decreased 22 percent in women who drank between one and three cups
daily; and one cup of decaf per day was associated with a 23 percent
reduced risk of gout when compared to the women who didnt drink coffee
at all. Similar findings have been documented for men: another
large-scale study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism,
found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased
their risk of gout by 40 percent, and that those who consumed six cups
or more lowered gout risk by 60 percent.


How it works: According to the Nurses Health Study, coffees
antioxidant properties may decrease the risk of gout by decreasing
insulin, which in turn lowers uric acid levels (high concentrations of
uric acid can cause gout).




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