What are the Health Benefits of Coffee

A cup of coffee in the morning may pack more than just an energy boost.

More and more research is emerging to suggest that there may be several health benefits associated with drinking this dark black beverage, from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.

The consumption of coffee goes back centuries.

In 17th century England the popularity of the drink gave rise to a number of coffee houses which were dubbed ‘penny universities’, because with one penny a person could buy a cup of coffee and have intellectually stimulating conversations with other people.

Nowadays, with over 400 billion cups consumed every year, coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. But what makes it special?

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular foods. It provides a nutritional breakdown of coffee, details of the potential health benefits associated with its consumption, and any possible risks you should be aware of.

Nutritional breakdown of coffee
Calorie count
Regular black coffee (without milk or cream) has a very low calorie count. A typical cup of black coffee only contains around 2 calories.

However, if you add sugar and milk, the calorie count can shoot up.

Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S., according to researchers at the University of Scranton.

Joe Vinson, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said that “Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close.”

The authors of the study emphasize moderation, stating that only one or two cups a day appear to be beneficial.

Caffeinated and decaffeinated versions provided nearly the same levels of antioxidants.
Health benefits of coffee
The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include: protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.3

Coffee may protect against type 2 diabetes

Coffee may be protective against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body’s sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Simin Liu, one of the authors of the study, said that an “inverse association” exists between coffee consumption and risk for type 2 diabetes.

Coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease

Researchers in the U.S. carried out a study that assessed the link between coffee consumption and Parkinson’s disease risk. The authors of the study concluded that “higher coffee and caffeine intake is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease”.

In addition, caffeine in coffee may help control movement in people suffering from Parkinson’s, according to a study conducted at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) that was published in the journal Neurology.

Coffee may lower the risk of liver cancer

Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. In addition, some of the results suggest that if you drink three cups a day, the risks are reduced by more than 50%.

Coffee may help prevent liver disease

Regular consumption of coffee is linked to a reduced risk of primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), a rare autoimmune disease of the bile ducts in the liver.8

In addition, coffee consumption can lower the incidence of cirrhosis of the liver for alcohol drinkers by 22%, according to a study at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, California, USA.

The authors of the study concluded that the results “support the hypothesis that there is an ingredient in coffee that protects against cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.”

Research published in the journal Hepatology in April 2014, suggests that drinking coffee is linked to a decreased liver cirrhosis death risk. The researchers suggest that drinking two or more cups of coffee every day can reduce the risk of death from liver cirrhosis by 66%.

Coffee may be good for the heart

Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Harvard School of Public Health, concluded that drinking coffee in moderation protects against heart failure. They defined ‘in moderation’ as 2 European cups (equivalent to two 8-ounce American servings) per day.10

People who drank four European cups on a daily basis had an 11% lower risk of heart failure, compared to those who did not.

The authors stressed that their results “did show a possible benefit, but like with so many other things we consume, it really depends on how much coffee you drink.”

Recent developments on the benefits of coffee from MNT news
Coffee may reduce stroke risk. A study monitored coffee consumption of 83,269 Japanese adults aged 45 to 74 years and found that people who drank coffee on a daily basis were at a 20 percent lower risk of stroke compared to those who did not drink it often.

High coffee intake may help against prostate cancer. According to a study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, men who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had 59% reduced risk of prostate cancer recurrence and/or progression than those whose coffee consumption was just one cup a week or less.

In addition, “caffeine use is also associated with symptoms of depression due to either a self-medication theory, or a theory that caffeine itself causes changes in mood.”
Recent developments on the risks of coffee from MNT news Caffeine can disrupt sleep hours later. It might be a good idea to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and at night as it can have a very detrimental effect on one’s sleep.

• Written by Joseph Nordqvist

A Brief History of Coffee

For many, going without a cup of coffee in the morning means they just can’t function or go about their daily routine. It is usually an acquired taste; first time drinkers find the aroma very appealing, but the actual taste doesn’t really taste as good as the aroma smells.

Most believe that coffee was originally discovered by mankind in Ethiopia. Once local monks discovered it, they began to dry the berries and ship them to other monasteries. The berries would be refreshed with water and then the fruit would be eaten and the water that the berries had soaked in would be drunk as well.
By the time the dried berries made it to the Middle East, there was quite a lot of interest in them and farmers began growing them first in Yemen. In Turkey, the coffee beans were roasted for the first time and began to resemble what we would recognize as coffee today. After roasting, the dried beans would be roasted, crushed and boiled in water. This was a crude early version of what so many coffee lovers drink today.
Coffee was probably brought to Europe by Venetian merchants. Given its stimulating effect, there seemedto be some criticism among Catholics that the drink was evil. Oddly, the Pope at the time was already enjoying it and informed his constituents that it wasn’t evil, it was just misunderstood.
Coffee houses spread across Europe and soon they became gathering places for those intellectuals who debated among themselves. Once settlers began to arrive in the Americas, the dark drink soon followed. By the time of the American Revolution, since the patriots had decided not to drink tea in protest, coffee was actually adopted as the national drink. Since that time, it has continued its domination and is the most popular beverage when you take into consideration all countries.
Coffee is a huge industry worldwide and employs millions of workers. It is a living for many people, but for others it is a great way to start their day and get a kick start in the morning when they need it. Even if you don’t like to drink it, you probably still enjoy the smell of fresh coffee brewing. If you are someone who doesn’t like to drink it, you are in the minority on a world wide scale. This dark pick me up drink is not for everyone, but for those who love it, they are very appreciative of their daily dose of caffeine and usually need it on a daily basis.

• Writer



Discover the top 10 most interesting and amazing facts about coffee, and find why this fascinating drink is one of the most extended drinks around the world.

The world consumes 1.6 billion cups of coffee every day, with Americans spending $40 billion on coffee every year. 70% coffee consumed is Arabica coffee, which is mild and has a deep and full aroma, the remaining 30 percent is Robusta, which is bitterer.

Legend has it that coffee was first discovered by goatherds in Africa who noticed that their charges stayed awake and spent all night frisking and dancing after eating little red berries. The goatherds brought the little red berries to their local monks, who figured out how to remove, dry and grind the beans from their red berry shells.

Back in the first millennium, coffee was not a beverage but a food. The Oromo tribe of Ethiopia invented energy bars by mixing ground coffee beans with animal fats and eating them as a quick pick-me-up.

All commercially-produced coffee grows between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. In the United States, it only grows in Hawaii.

Coffee grows on trees which can get as tall as 30 feet. This makes it difficult to harvest the coffee beans, so most coffee trees are kept to about 10 feet tall.
George Washington invented instant coffee. Not the George Washington you are thinking of, though. Instant coffee was invented in 1906 by a Belgian man of that name living in Guatemala.

Coffee is called ‘joe’ after the American servicemen who drank it by the gallon during World War II. They are also responsible for Americano coffee which is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water.

Decaffeinated coffee contains as many powerful antioxidants as regular coffee. Antioxidants combat the free radicals which are produced by your body in response to your natural metabolic processes, like breathing, as well as to environmental toxins and pollutants. Free radicals are responsible for many of the side effects of aging and for certain cancers.

Drinking one to two cups of coffee every day may help ease the symptoms of depression in women. In 2008, Swedish scientists also discovered a possible link between drinking coffee and a lowered risk of breast cancer in women who possess the gene CYP1A2, which helps the body metabolize both coffee and estrogen.

A 22-year study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that, of the 48,000 men studied, those who drank six or more cups of coffee every day reduced their chances of dying from prostate cancer by 60 percent.

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