Whether you enjoy a leisurely coffee every once in awhile, or you happen to be so hooked on coffee that you can’t imagine going a single day without it, you have probably heard about some of its health benefits, as well as some of its drawbacks. Coffee has millions of devotees found all over the world, largely in part because it contains the most widely consumed psychoactive substance found on the planet: caffeine. There has been plenty of research based on the effects of coffee, and the studies are far from over. However, there are several pros and cons that we know for certain already, so let’s take a look at them here:
Benefits of Coffee
- It helps you feel alert – Sure, some may drink it for the taste, but the majority of us love the laser-like focus and mental clarity we feel when we drink coffee.
- It can improve your mood, combat depression and lower suicide risk – The central nervous system is stimulated when we drink caffeine, which increases the production of mood-boosting neurotransmitters such as dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin. Studies have shown that two daily cups of coffee can decrease suicide risk by 50%.
- It is filled with beneficial antioxidants – Coffee can help protect your body from harmful free radicals.
- Enjoy a better workout performance – Adrenaline is your friend when you exercise, and because caffeine increases its levels in your blood, drinking a cup of black coffee an hour prior to working out can improve your performance by up to 12%.
- You’ll burn more fat – Caffeine stimulates fat cells to use your body fat as training fuel.
- It might help you lose weight – Rich in potassium and magnesium (both of which aid the body in using insulin), coffee can help regulate blood sugar levels while decreasing your cravings for sugary junk food.
- It protects your brain – Regular consumption of caffeine not only reduces your risk of dementia, it also lowers your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- It lowers your risk of several common diseases – From Type II diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, to stroke and certain cancers (including prostate, endometrial and basal cell carcinoma), drinking coffee can help protect your body.
Downsides of Coffee
- Poor quality coffee can be harmful – The lower the quality level, the more impurities it may have, which can lead to headaches, stomach issues, jitteriness and more.
- It can lead to insomnia – It is recommended to avoid drinking caffeine later in the day because it can interfere with your sleep. The average person should not exceed 400 milligrams a day (about 4 cups), although caffeine-sensitive individuals may need to experiment with smaller amounts until they find how much is suitable for them.
- Non-filtered coffee can raise LDL cholesterol levels – While this has little effect on people with normal cholesterol levels, those with high cholesterol should stick to filtered coffee and avoid styles such as espresso, french press and turkish coffee.
- It should be avoided during pregnancy – Unborn babies are extremely sensitive to caffeine, which is why one cup a day, or better yet none at all, is recommended.
The Bottom Line
While coffee should be limited or avoided altogether for children, pregnant women, caffeine-sensitive individuals and those with high cholesterol, most people can enjoy a sensible amount every day and reap its health-boosting benefits.