A guide to some of the most important health benefits that are associated with coffee, both by drinking it and through a number of other uses for this versatile beverage.
Coffee is one of the world’s most popular caffeinated beverages and, thanks to various factors that we are about to go into, it’s also quite healthy depending on how you take yours.
This may come as a shock to some people, as there tends to be a negative rhetoric around drinking coffee that suggests it is not all that healthy at all and that the opposite is true, with many claiming that it can actually be bad for you causing a number of health implications!
Of course, drinking too much coffee is going to be bad for you, just like with anything – but we have the science to back it up. We’ve done the research; we’ve read the articles; we’ve drunk endless cups of coffee, all in the name of bringing you the best information possible.
Whether you’re someone who reaches for their coffee cup the first thing in the morning so they can receive that eagerly awaited hit of caffeine or you prefer to make your first coffee of the day after lunch to help combat the dreaded afternoon slump, coffee can be good for you.
Throughout this article, we are going to tell you why.
So, fill your coffee grinder, boil some water, get ready to brew a coffee, and let’s get started.
The Health Benefits of Coffee
You might have been told once or twice before that drinking too much coffee can be bad for you, and that
1. Boosts Energy Levels
One of the reasons why coffee is such a popular drink to make and chug down in the morning is because it can boost your energy levels and help you get started with your day.
One of the side effects of caffeine is that it can boost your energy levels so that you feel more alert and awake during the day (or at night if you have a coffee too close to bedtime).
Caffeine absorbs through your bloodstream and travels to your brain, where it “blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine” according to Healthline. This leads to an increase of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine which enhances neuron firing.
You don’t have to just take our word on this information, as there have been a number of different studies with controlled conditions that have demonstrated just how coffee can improve different aspects of human brain function. This includes the following areas:
- Energy levels
- Reaction times
- General memory function
This just goes to show that your morning cup of coffee really can affect mood and performance, and is therefore essentially able to set you up for the day ahead.
2. May Contribute to Weight Loss
So, if your usual coffee order sounds something like a caramel cappuccino with an extra shot and extra sugar sachets, it’s probably safe to say that this won’t help with weight loss.
However, caffeine itself can help you burn fat. Seriously.
In fact, if you look at the labels for various commercial supplements that are advertised as being able to promote weight loss by helping you burn more fat, you will notice they all have caffeine listed as one of the ingredients in their formula. Clearly it does something, then!
Coffee actually contains magnesium and potassium as well as the star of the show; caffeine. These two substances have been known to help the body use up insulin which can help to reduce food cravings that are causing you to overeat or snack excessively out of boredom.
Coffee is also one of the few natural substances that has been proven to break down fat cells and caffeine can aid weight loss as it can boost your metabolic rate by 3 to 11 percent.
People who are overweight or obese can benefit from drinking more coffee as it can increase fat burning by up to 10 percent, according to one study on the metabolic effects of caffeine in humans. The same study showed for slim people, this increases to 29 percent.
3. Source of Antioxidants
Antioxidants have been linked to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, certain types of liver disease, and even conditions like Alheimer’s. Antioxidants can also help to protect you against oxidative stress and a number of other illnesses.
Coffee contains both hydroxycinnamic acids and polyphenols which are types of antioxidants and therefore it is one of the healthiest forms of antioxidants to be found in a Western diet.
In fact, research has suggested that a fair amount of people who also incorporate fruits and vegetables into their diets will still absorb most of their antioxidants from consuming coffee.
So, if you are one of those people who are a bit fussy about which types of fruit and vegetables you are willing to include in your diet, coffee may just be the way forward for you!
4. Contains Vital Nutrients
Aside from caffeine and antioxidants, what other essential nutrients does coffee contain?
The answer to this question is: a whole bunch of them, as most of the essential nutrients that can be found in coffee beans survive the brewing process and will still end up in your cup.
For example, even just a single cup of coffee can provide you with the following nutrients:
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): This can be counted as up to 11 percent of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) for essential nutrients that your body needs to function properly.
- Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid): This can be counted as up to 6 percent of the RDI.
- Manganese and Potassium: This can be counted as up to 3 percent of the RDI.
- Vitamin B3 (Magnesium and Niacin): This can be counted as up to 2 percent of the RDI.
Of course, this will only make up a small part of your overall diet, but despite it looking like a small amount, drinking multiple cups of coffee throughout the day means they will add up!
The amount of nutrients that can be found in your usual cup of coffee will depend on how you usually take your coffee, however, as there will be different amounts of nutrients in black coffee, for example, compared to a coffee that has been made with soya milk and sugar.
Webmd states that black coffee in particular is “rich in antioxidants, which can fight cell damage and reduce your risk of serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease.”
They provide the following nutritional information on their website:
Nutrients Per Serving
- Calories: 2
- Protein: 0 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 0 grams
- Sugar: 0 grams
- Sodium: 5 milligrams
This is in addition to the high levels of vitamin B2. caffeine, and magnesium.
According to Medical News Today, “some experts suggest that these and other ingredients in coffee can benefit the human body in various ways” and is another reason to drink coffee.
5. May Help to Protect Against Heart Failure
If you are someone who already drinks a lot of coffee, you have probably heard from several people who tell you that coffee is bad for you and that it can increase your blood pressure.
While this is not entirely untrue, in actual fact, consuming coffee only causes a slight rise in blood pressure by about 3 to 4 mm/Hg. This is hardly a significant increase and will not have much of an effect on your body’s ability to function or any adverse effects on your health.
Furthermore, you can expect this minor increase in blood pressure to drop back down to your regular rate again if you are a regular coffee drinker as the effects dissipate over time. This doesn’t necessarily apply if you already have elevated blood pressure, however.
With that being said, there is still a lot of evidence that suggests that consuming coffee can actually help to protect you against certain serious health issues, such as heart failure.
Consuming just two 8-ounce servings of coffee per day could potentially reduce your risk of heart failure, according to several studies on the subject of how caffeine impacts your health. It can also help to reduce your risk of experiencing a stroke, according to much research.
So, although drinking coffee probably won’t completely prevent some of these issues, it can definitely play a role in reducing the risk of them occurring to you which is still a health benefit.
6. Improves Physical Performance
Forget your mango-flavored pre-workout before your next sweaty session at the gym, as you might just be better off grabbing a cup of coffee before you leave the house, with some scientific studies demonstrating that caffeine does more than just boost your energy levels!
After all, most of these branded pre-workout supplements will feature caffeine as one of the main ingredients in their formula anyway… a quick check of the labels can confirm this.
The high caffeine content that is found in coffee can stimulate your nervous system, and caffeine can help encourage your body to signal more fat cells to break down body fat.
The broken down body fat can then be converted into fatty free acids which the body is able to use as a source of fuel, meaning you will have more energy to smash through a workout.
This just goes to show how the energy boost that most people experience after drinking a cup of coffee (or three) can benefit you. Having a cup of coffee an hour before you do a workout can actually help you push through and improves performance by 11 to 12 percent.
This is because caffeine (and therefore coffee) can help increase the epinephrine (more commonly known as adrenaline) levels in your blood that is pumping around your body.
And as you probably know, adrenaline is the hormone that triggers your fight or flight response, so encouraging its production is going to better prepare you for physical exertion.
However, it is important that you drink your cup of coffee at the right time if you want to experience the benefits of coffee during your workout session rather than before or after.
As pointed out by Men’s Health, your body still needs “an adequate amount of carbohydrates, fat, and protein to power through an entire workout”, so it’s not okay to substitute these other necessities in favor of coffee, but you can certainly include it as well.
7. May Help to Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to this, it is also one of the leading causes of dementia throughout the whole world. There is currently no known cure for Alzheimer’s.
With that being said, much research is being conducted into the disease and it has been suggested that there are several things that you can do in order to reduce the likelihood of you developing the disease in the first place. You can probably guess what comes next…
Yep, that’s right. Coffee may indeed be able to help to protect you from developing Alzheimer’s and dementia as hinted at by a number of different scientific studies. The research has shown that people who drink coffee have up to a 65% lower risk.
Drinking coffee alone may not be the cure to either of these conditions, and should be practiced in conjunction with eating healthily and exercising regularly, but it could be an effective addition that you should definitely consider incorporating if this is a worry for you.
8. Can be Used to Exfoliate the Skin
If you don’t like drinking coffee due to the taste (we don’t blame you, as without the extra sweetness from sugar or some type of syrup, certain types of coffee can be quite bitter), you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that coffee can be used in more ways than one.
Coffee is actually one of those surprising beauty-hack ingredients that you wouldn’t necessarily think to use, except for making coffee and drinking it, of course.
Starting to incorporate coffee into your beauty or skin care routine as well as into your diet can have several benefits for your health, improving areas such as your skin, scalp, and hair.
One of the ways you can use this incredibly versatile ingredient as an exfoliant, as ground coffee is a great choice if you want to rub away the dead skin cells that rest on top of your fresh face. The good thing about this is that the grounds don’t dissolve the same way that instant coffee does when it is mixed with hot water, so it can be used as an effective scrub.
It’s more than that though, as coffee can even promote healthier skin according to a study on Caffeic Acid and its potential use for cosmetics from 2013, which indicated just how much the substances and ingredients that coffee contains can help improve the look of your skin.
Plus, caffeic acid is an antioxidant, and it has been suggested that these may boost collagen production levels and can slow down or reduce the premature aging of your skin cells.
You can create your own coffee scrub at home by combining these ingredients:
- ¼ cup of fresh coffee grounds.
- ¼ cup of brown sugar.
- As much lemon juice as you need to reach the desired consistency – remember, you don’t want the mixture to be too loose or else it’ll slide off and won’t stick to your skin!
After you’ve applied your coffee scrub mixture, which you should do gently with circular motions over your skin, allow it to sit on your skin for a few minutes before washing it off. You can repeat this process once every few days for a healthier, fresh-faced glow to your skin!
9. Rebalances the pH Levels in Your Hair and Scalp
If you didn’t already know, the scalp and hair have quite a high natural acidity. This is something that can be measured by the pH scale, created by scientists over 100 years ago.
According to this scale, things that are more acidic than not will have a lower pH value.
For example, anything with a pH level of less than 7.0 would be considered acidic, whereas on the other hand, anything that has a pH level of more than 7.0 would be basic or alkaline.
To put this into perspective for you, scientific tests have shown that hair fibers have a pH value of 3.67, but your scalp will have a pH value of 5.5. As per these statistics, you can clearly see that your hair is more acidic than your scalp when you compare the two.
Why does all this matter? Well, there are certain hair care products that have a higher pH than your hair or scalp, and this can affect your pH levels and leave you with dull, frizzy, damaged hair. Say goodbye to locks like Rapunzel and say hello to Cinderella’s hair pre-ball.
You might not even realise that it is your hair products such as your hair shampoo and conditioner that are affecting the health and quality of your hair, but luckily, coffee can help.
Due to the naturally high acidity in coffee, (a medium roast of one specific major coffee brand has a pH value of 5.11, according to the American Dental Association), coffee can be a good thing to apply to your hair as a way to rebalance your hair and scalp’s pH levels.
Don’t just go and pour a cup of hot coffee all over your head, whatever you do! To reap the aesthetic benefits of using coffee in your beauty routine, you should rinse your hair with cold, brewed coffee or alternatively, you can use old coffee grounds to massage your scalp.
The exfoliating properties of coffee that we talked you through earlier also apply here, as the ground coffee can be used to scrub away any dead skin cells and can improve dandruff.
10. Reduces Puffy Eyes
If you are someone who wakes up most mornings to be greeted in the mirror by someone with eyes twice the size of what yours usually look like staring back at you, then coffee may be able to help with your puffy eyes problem. And surprisingly, we don’t mean by drinking it.
Another benefit of coffee used for cosmetic purposes is that it can help to improve any puffiness around the eyes. This is because caffeine is able to stimulate your body’s blood flow and affects the blood vessels by causing them to widen or dilate.
This ability to change the behaviour of your blood vessels can help to increase blood flow, and this can cause the skin to naturally tighten. Why does this help with puffy eyes?
Well, it can help to reduce the build up of fluid in the under eye area, thereby reducing the appearance of puffy eyes when you wake up and whenever you want throughout the day.
Coffee also contains other compounds that have been known to help reduce puffiness and inflammation around the under eye area.This includes compounds such as chlorogenic acids.
To use coffee this way and to hopefully help your eyes look less puffy if that is what you are hoping to achieve, create a paste using very finely ground coffee with a bit of actual coffee that you have made (with water) and allow it to cool so it does not burn your skin.
To apply the coffee mixture, simply dab it gently around the eyes and allow it to sit for a few minutes before you then wash it off. Be careful not to get any in your eyes or it may sting!
Risks of Drinking Too Much Coffee
Despite the health benefits that are associated with coffee which we have talked you through in this article, there are also certain risks that come with drinking too much coffee.
If you are not sure how much coffee is too much coffee, most people recommend that you should try to stick to less than or up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. This amount of caffeine a day “appears to be safe for most healthy adults” and that is “roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two ‘energy shot’ drinks.”
As pointed out in the above quote, you will need to keep in mind the fact that coffee is not the only thing that contains caffeine. So, if you are someone who enjoys several of the following foods or drinks, you will need to pay close attention to how much your daily caffeine intake is adding up to otherwise you may experience negative side effects:
- Cocoa beans and chocolate
- Kola nut
- Green tea
- Yerba mate drink
- Chewing gum
Some of the risks associated with drinking too much coffee can include the following.
Insomnia and Restlessness
As we mentioned earlier on in this article, the caffeine that is found in coffee can be responsible for some of your sleepless nights if you experience difficulty drifting off at night.
Remember that it only takes four cups of coffee for you to reach the 400 milligram recommendation, but if you are already sensitive to caffeine, you may find that even this is too much for you to handle. Limit your coffee (caffeine) intake during the day and have your last cup at least seven hours before bed to see if this helps you get a better night’s sleep.
If you are pregnant, the recommended daily caffeine consumption amount decreases. Research has shown that fetuses are more sensitive to caffeine and, seeing as they get all of their essential nutrients through you, you will need to make sure you cut down on coffee.
Some people will give up coffee completely during their pregnancy whilst hardcore coffee consumers attempt to at least cut it down to only having one cup of coffee per day.
Because coffee is able to increase your level of alertness, if too much is consumed, this can turn into increased feelings of anxiety. This is because it blocks the effects of adenosine which is one of the chemicals in your brain that signal to you that you feel tired.
This causes an adrenaline rush and can trigger your fight or flight response that leads to increased energy. So, when too much coffee is consumed, these effects are amplified, which can lead to jitteriness and other similar symptoms, especially in caffeine-sensitive people.
It is a bit of a running joke that having a cup of coffee in the morning can be a great trick to getting your bowel movements going for the day, but this can be taken to the extreme.
This is because coffee is known to have a laxative effect which is due to a release of gastrin. Gastrin is a hormone that is produced in the stomach and can speed up colon activity. This isn’t the only thing that affects your bowel movements and your digestion, however.
Caffeine itself is able to stimulate your bowel movements as it can increase the number of contractions that your digestive tract experiences in order to move food through your system. These are called peristalsis, and unsurprisingly, this can lead to loose stools or diarrhea.
It might sound a bit extreme, but you can’t contest that in a lot of people’s cases, what was once a harmless coffee habit is now the fuel you need to see you through a busy day.
Although caffeine doesn’t trigger typical addition in the way that cocaine and amphetamines do, there have been a number of detailed reviews that indicate that caffeine does indeed trigger certain brain chemicals in a way that is similar to these drugs.
This means it is possible for people to develop a psychological or physical dependency on coffee, especially if they are consistently consuming it in high doses. You can even experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, and irritability.
Studies have shown that these symptoms are more prevalent among long-term, daily coffee drinkers compared to people who only drank coffee on the odd occasion or in small portions.
As you can hopefully see after reading this article (if you have even managed to make it this far… congratulations! You win the prize of knowing you know more about the health benefits of coffee than the majority of people), there are a number of different benefits of coffee.
It doesn’t matter if you prefer to drink it or apply it, as the benefits of coffee can apply to both. Drinking coffee, as we have demonstrated throughout this article, can help improve your health in a number of different ways. Not only can it promote weight loss and help to boost your energy levels, but it also contains antioxidants and other substances that benefit you.
Don’t worry if you don’t particularly like the taste of coffee even after you have added extra sweeteners, sugars, or syrups, as you can still reap the benefits of coffee via various other methods, such as mixing it into a paste and applying it topically to certain areas of your body.
However you decide to incorporate coffee into your lifestyle, at least you can now do so knowing that not only is it not as bad for you as people claim. Well, as long as you drink it in moderation and don’t keep going back to the kitchen until you’ve reached cup number 10.