Happy National Coffee Day!

Enjoy That Daily Cup of Joe, Because it’s Actually Good for You!

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, is part of customs and rituals the across the globe, and is celebrated in the United States with National Coffee Day on October 1st. However, many of us stress about drinking too much coffee, and the negatives associated with drinking too much caffeine. And yes, there are some, and like anything else, coffee drinking should be approached with moderation. But, for many reasons, a cup or two of coffee each day is actually good for you!

Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels, Making You More Alert and More Intelligent

When the caffeine in coffee is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain, it blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine, which increases the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine, which causes neurons to fire. Many studies have shown that caffeine consumption can improve reaction time, memory, mood energy levels and overall mental function.

Coffee Contains Essential Nutrients

Many of the nutrients found in coffee beans – vitamins B2 and B5, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin - are retained as the beans are brewed and make their way into your delicious morning coffee. And while a single cup of coffee does not contain a full daily dose of these nutrients, many of us drink more than one cup of coffee per day, which helps the totals add up.

Coffee is Very High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are essential for the neutralization of free radicals that can cause cancer, and for the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Coffee is particularly rich in hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols, which may reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, and reduce inflammation. In fact, many people who consume a standard Western diet actually get more of their antioxidants from coffee than they do from colorful fruits and vegetables.

Coffee May Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases

Recent research has shown coffee drinking to be protective against all sorts of ailments. Studies have shown that regular coffee drinkers are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cirrhosis of the liver. Studies have also shown that coffee may reduce the risk of developing two types of cancers: liver cancer and colorectal cancer.

Coffee May Help You Live Longer

One study, published in 2015, looked at more than 200,000 participants for a period of 30 years and found that those who drank three to five cups of coffee per day, either regular or decaffeinated, were 15% less likely to die early from any cause than those who did not drink coffee.

Coffee May Help You Burn Fat and Lose Weight

Yes, this is true, but it’s not a magic bullet. One reason coffee can help you burn fat is that it makes you feel more energetic and able to exercise for longer periods of time. Caffeine also stimulates fat cells to break down fat and release it into the bloodstream, where they can be used as energy. But this only works if you are active enough to need that energy. Caffeine may also increase your resting metabolic rate, which means you will burn more calories throughout the day. Keep in mind that as your body develops a tolerance to caffeine, its effects on your metabolism will diminish.

You Can Do More Than Just Drink It!

Try adding brewed coffee to chilis to enhance flavor or using coffee grounds, mixed with spices like garlic, paprika, onion powder, cumin, brown sugar and cayenne, as a rub for meats. Reduce coffee and balsamic vinegar to make a glaze for roasted or grilled vegetables. Coffee added to chocolate baking mixes for cakes, cookies and muffins enriches the flavor of the chocolate.

However, a Few Things to Remember...

Pay attention to how your coffee affects you. Does it make you jittery, sweaty or anxious? Does it make you laser-focused? Or does it not do much of anything? The way we metabolize coffee is genetic. There is a gene that controls an enzyme that determines how quickly our bodies break down caffeine. Fast metabolizers tolerate caffeine well and clear it from their systems four times more quickly than slow metabolizers, who feel the effects of caffeine more and for a longer period of time. The half-life of caffeine, while variable based on factors like age, weight and liver health, is between four and six hours. That means if you’re not a fast metabolizer, the coffee you drink at noon can still be in your system at 10 PM and can cause a disruption in your sleep.