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15 Health Benefits of Coffee and Side Effects

Coffee is a highly popular beverage across the world, with numerous health benefits. It is a beverage made from roasted coffee beans. Coffee, which is black in color, bitter, and slightly acidic, stimulates humans primarily through its caffeine content. It has the highest sales in the worldwide hot beverage industry. Furthermore, coffee includes a variety of beneficial substances, including phenolic compounds, or antioxidants. Some researchers believe that these and other coffee ingredients can help the human body in a variety of ways.

One cup of regular coffee approximately contains:

  • 2.4 calories
  • 0.3 grams of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of sugar
  • 0.5 milligrams pantothenic acid 6% of the daily value.
  • 0.2 milligrams vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 10% of the daily value.
  • 110 milligrams of potassium 3% of the daily value.
  • 0.1 milligrams of manganese 3% of the daily value.
  • 7 milligrams magnesium 2% of the daily value.
  • 0.5 milligrams vitamin B3 (Niacin) 2% of the daily value.

These nutrients in coffee may not be enough, but drinking 3 to 5 cups daily may affect your daily value by 10 to 20%. However, coffee contains antioxidants that have been shown to reduce internal inflammation (1). The caffeine in coffee, which is the main psychoactive stimulant substance, contributes to several health benefits (2). Caffeine is also available in capsule form. Athletes are using it as an energy-boosting supplement. In addition, people who drink coffee have a lower body fat percentage (3). Caffeinated coffee intake should be modest (1-7 cups per week), but not at higher doses.

Here are 15 evidence-based health benefits of coffee:

1. Boosts focus and concentration levels

The caffeine in coffee is a natural stimulant that speeds up the messages between the body and the brain. In proper doses, it is a part of a healthy diet that can make you feel more energetic. Evidence shows it stimulates the central nervous system and gives you mental alertness (4).

Coffee boosts focus and concentration levels in the following ways:

  1. Blocks adenosine receptors in the brain, which prevents feelings of fatigue (5).
  2. Increases production of dopamine, which enhances focus and motivation (6).
  3. Stimulates the central nervous system to increase alertness and energy (4).
  4. Increases brain activity and entropy, allowing for better information retention and processing (7).
  5. Increases production of serotonin and acetylcholine, which can help stabilize the blood-brain barrier (8).

Overall, caffeine’s effects on focus and concentration are due to its ability to modulate various neurotransmitters and brain regions involved in attention and motivation.

The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which means it increases activity in your brain and nervous system. In small doses, caffeine can make you feel refreshed and focused.

2. May lower the risk of Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a widespread neurological disease that is a major cause of dementia (9). The signs of this condition include cognitive impairment, short-term memory loss, and forgetting major life events. The study found that coffee can assist regulate brain chemicals and may lower the incidence of Alzheimer’s in persons who have been consuming coffee for a long period (10). Another study found that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day reduced the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) by 65% (11). They determined that consuming coffee lowers the likelihood of developing mental health disorders later in life.

Here are some ways coffee may protect you from Alzheimer’s disease:

  • May interact with proteins linked to Alzheimer’s (12)
  • May enhance cognitive function and memory (4)
  • May slow cognitive decline (13)
  • May slow accumulation of amyloid deposits in the brain (13)
  • May decrease the build-up of amyloid and reduces inflammation and cell death in the brain (14)

Caffeine’s stimulating effects on the neurological system are well-known. However, caffeine’s long-term effects on the neurological system are unclear. Thus, we need additional large-scale research to figure out the long-term benefits of coffee on age-related cognitive decline.

Please note that these findings are based on observational studies and more research is needed to confirm causality.

Certain compounds in coffee may reduce inflammation, interact with Alzheimer’s proteins, enhance cognitive function, and slow cognitive decline.

3. May protect against parkinson’s

Parkinson’s disease is another neurodegenerative disorder that affects dopamine-producing neurons in the brain (15). The symptoms typically appear gradually and worsen. People with Parkinson’s may have trouble walking as the condition develops. They may also have mental and behavioral changes, sleep issues, depression, memory problems, talking problems, and weariness. Scientists’ research shows that caffeine can increase dopamine in the brain, and it is associated with a significantly lower risk of PD (16).

Although there is no cure for Parkinson’s disease, medications, and other therapies can only ease the symptoms to some point. People who love to drink coffee may have a reduced risk of PD at their late age (16).

Here are some ways coffee may protect against Parkinson’s disease:

  1. Caffeic acid, an antioxidant found in coffee, may help protect nerve cells (17).
  2. Caffeine may help increase dopamine release, which could potentially protect against Parkinson’s (16).
  3. Caffeine may help reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (16).
  4. Consuming caffeine may help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s in people with a particular genetic mutation (18).

Caffeine may protect against Parkinson’s disease by increasing dopamine release and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It may reduce the risk in genetically at-risk individuals, but does not improve symptoms in those already suffering from the condition.

Parkinson’s disease is becoming more prevalent in aging populations, and coffee consumption has been demonstrated in human and animal studies to significantly delay the commencement of progression in a dose-dependent way.

4. Coffee can boost metabolism

The caffeine in coffee can increase your metabolic rate, which is the pace at which your body converts calories into energy (19). Caffeine may also help with fat burning during exercise. In one 2018 study, they gave participants 3 mg of caffeine per kilogram of bodyweight. Caffeine consumption changed their caloric expenditure (20). Participants burned more body fat during exercise than carbohydrates alone.

Coffee can boost metabolism in various ways:

  1. Increase alertness and energy (4)
  2. Enhance thermogenesis (heat production in the body) (21)
  3. Increase fat burning and lipolysis (breakdown of fat cells) (20)

However, it’s important to note that:

  • The metabolic boost may vary depending on individual tolerance and sensitivity to caffeine
  • Regular and excessive caffeine consumption can lead to tolerance and reduced effects
  • Adding large amounts of sugar, cream, or syrup to coffee can negate the metabolic benefits
  • Coffee is not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise

However, caffeine can affect every individual differently. Many people can tolerate caffeine well during exercise. Some people may experience caffeine side effects such as headaches, nausea, and motion during exercise.

Moderate coffee consumption, defined as 3-4 cups per day, can be a useful addition to a weight management plan, especially when combined with a healthy lifestyle.

You may also like: 10 Health Benefits of Regular Exercise

5. Boosts physical performance

The purine alkaloid properties of coffee, such as caffeine, can amplify stamina. There are many people aware of its impressive effect, and they drink a cup of black coffee before their workouts.

Drinking coffee has been linked to greater strength and endurance during exercise.

For best results, drink 1–2 cups (240–475 mL) of water one hour before your workout. However, in my case, it gives me a mild headache during the workout.

This may be because of the increased blood pressure induced by caffeine.

Make sure you are not allergic to caffeine, as it may cause serious side effects during exercise.

6. May help reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Coffee drinkers have a low risk of diabetes mellitus. Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder that causes symptoms such as high blood sugar, frequent hunger, incredible thirst, and rapid urination.

In addition, regular coffee drinkers are less likely to feel hungry than non-coffee drinkers (2). Caffeine has a unique effect on each individual.

If you have diabetes, decreasing coffee in your diet may be beneficial. The effects of caffeine on insulin may be associated with sugar levels.

For some people with diabetes, about 200 milligrams of caffeine, or the equivalent of one to two cups of black coffee, may cause this effect.

7. May reduce risk of Cardiovascular Disease

The contribution of caffeine to heart disease reduction is conflicting. The caffeine in coffee can increase blood pressure, which is not good for the heart.

But for a regular coffee drinker, it is a slight increase in blood pressure (3).

However, coffee is a source of antioxidants, and it plays a vital role in balancing cholesterol by decreasing inflammation inside the body.

A coffee drinker has a low risk of cardiovascular and stroke diseases.

The point here is:

How much coffee should I drink?

What is the best time to drink coffee?

Most experts recommend drinking 1 cup of plain, unsweetened coffee (containing 100 mg of caffeine) in the morning, right after you wake up.

Drinking too much coffee can be harmful for people who are at risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the amount of caffeine you ingest matters.

8. May protect against liver damage

Coffee can lower the risk of fibrotic illness in several chronic liver conditions, which may lower the replication of the hepatitis C virus (4).

The liver plays a fundamental role inside the body. It regulates the balance of hormones, such as cortisone, thyroid, and other adrenal hormones.

Common chronic liver diseases, such as fatty liver and hepatitis, create hormonal imbalances. One study shows that regular coffee consumption may protect against liver cirrhosis.

However, we need more studies to understand the correlation between coffee and liver disease prevention (5).

9. Drinkers have lower rates of depression

Depression is a chemical imbalance in the human brain.

Caffeine blocks these brain receptors from binding with a chemical (adenosine), which promotes the feeling of tiredness and depression.

Studies show an increase or decrease in brain chemicals doesn’t always lead to mental disorders, but it could be because of multiple problems, such as stressful life events, facing hurdles, and other mental problems.

In one study, people who drink coffee were happier than non-coffee drinkers. The antioxidants in caffeine, such as theophylline and theobromine, belong to a family of organic compounds called xanthines.

These antioxidants can cross the brain-blood barrier and decrease oxidative stress (6).

10. May help you live longer

There are many other factors that contribute to longevity, such as healthy habits and an active lifestyle. However, people who drink coffee are less likely to get sick and have a lower rate of health problems. The study shows people who drink coffee have a 25% lower risk of premature death than people who don’t drink coffee at all. Drinking two to three cups of coffee a day may keep you healthy and energetic. The psychoactive and antioxidant effects of caffeine are believed to decrease oxidative stress. Oxidative stress (OS) is the major cause of chronic diseases and the aging process (8)

14. Can make DNA stronger

There are many factors, such as diet and chemical exposure, that can cause modifications in DNA methylation that alter gene expression.

Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and tea are two examples of pharmacologically active exposures.

Coffee has been shown to reduce inflammation and alter oestrogen metabolism. People who drink coffee are less likely to get chronic diseases, but it is not clear why.

A European journal of nutrition found that coffee can protect the body from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can harm DNA.

Hence, coffee plays a crucial role in protecting these DNA cells (13).

15. Contains soluble fiber

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, but fiber stays intact in your digestive system.

Some reports say that one cup of coffee contains approximately 1.5 grams of soluble fiber.

Coffee can’t replace whole grains and vegetable fibers, but it can improve digestion and help the stomach absorb vitamins and minerals from the food you consume every day.

Coffee can activate the digestive system by pushing food through and making you poop.

Side Effects of Coffee

When consumed in moderation—3 cups per day or less—coffee is safe for most healthy adults.

Too much coffee can have side effects, such as causing insomnia, nervousness, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, and an increase in heart rate.

Pregnant or breast-feeding women should talk to their doctor before consuming caffeinated beverages.

People who are on certain medications should also avoid coffee (14).

Coffee contains nutrients that can increase energy and physical performance. It is a stimulant that increases the transmission of messages between the body and the brain. It can stimulate the central nervous system and increase mental alertness. It has also been linked to increased strength and endurance during physical activity. Caffeine, on the other hand, affects each person differently, and some people may experience caffeine side effects during exercise such as headaches, nausea, and motion sickness. Drink 240–475 mL of coffee an hour before your workout for the best results. Caffeine can also boost dopamine levels in the brain, reduce muscle pain, and strengthen DNA. Coffee may also reduce inflammation, making you less likely to get sick.

Conclusion

Coffee has been extensively researched for its many health benefits. Drinking coffee can boost energy levels, promote weight loss, improve athletic performance.

Some people, such as pregnant or breastfeeding women, children and adolescents, and people with certain health conditions, may need to limit their intake.

Drinking coffee in moderation has been linked to several health benefits and is safe for most adults.

Naeem Durrani BSc
I am a retired pharmacist, nutritionist, and food system expert. My interests include medical research and the scientific evidence around effective wellness practices that empower people to transform their lives.

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