Top Chef Meals: Coffee - It’s Good for You!

Coffee - It’s Good for You!

Perhaps you already love coffee (it’s a magical, life-giving thing, we agree!) but you keep hearing conflicting information on whether it’s good for you or not. Does the caffeine harm you or is it heart-healthy? Can you drink TOO much coffee? It seems like whether coffee is friend or enemy depends on the day of the week. BUT coffee actually has several health benefits, some if not all of which are backed by science. Here’s what coffee can do for you.

1. Workin’ it - when it comes to physical activity, coffee has a few benefits. For starters, caffeine increases adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone, preparing your body for physical exertion. By drinking a cup of coffee a 1/2 hour before working out, you can improve your performance by 11-12%. Caffeine is also one of few natural substances proven to aid in burning fat. It can increase fat-burning by 10% in obese people and up to 29% in lean people. Finally, according to the Journal of Pain, just 2 cups of coffee can cut your after workout muscle pain by 48%!
2. Get those nutrients & antioxidants! - Did you know that that most of the nutrients in coffee beans make it into your coffee? Yep, just one cup of coffee contains 11% of your recommended daily Vitamin B2, 6% of your Vitamin B5, 3% of your potassium, and 2% of your magnesium & niacin. Pretty cool. AND coffee is probably the biggest supplier of antioxidants in the Western diet. A lot of people get more antioxidants from their coffee than fruits & veggies, making coffee one of the healthiest beverages ever.
3 .Fight disease - coffee lowers the risk of a host of diseases and health problems. A cup of coffee a day decreases the risk of Type II diabetes by 9%. And several studies have shown that drinking coffee decreases your risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 65% and Parkinson’s disease by 32-60%. (In the case of Parkinson’s, it’s caffeine itself that seems to be the beneficial part as decaffeinated drinkers do NOT have a lower risk.) Coffee can also protect your liver and may reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis and colorectal cancer.
4. Make you happier - Harvard School of Public Health did a study that found that women who drink 4+ cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of suffering from depression. Another study - a 10 year one that studied 86,000 female nurses - also showed a reduced risk of suicide in people who drank coffee. Yet another study of 208,424 individuals who drank 4+ cups of coffee a day showed that risk to be up to 53%. It’s a fact - coffee makes you happier!
5. Heart healthy - while it’s true that caffeine can increase your blood pressure, it’s a minimal increase (although if you already have high blood pressure this may be an issue), studies have found that the idea of coffee raising your risk of heart disease isn’t supported. In fact, women who drink coffee have a reduced risk. One study found that people who consume 3-5 cups of coffee daily are less likely to show the beginnings of heart disease while another found consuming at least 3 cups a day causes people to develop less calcification of coronary arteries. Even drinking up to 25 cups of coffee a day doesn’t cause hardening of the arteries! Finally, coffee drinkers have a 20% less chance of stroke.

Long story short, drink all the coffee you want! (Well, okay, moderation is still important in life but if you’re a hardcore coffee drinker, it’s certainly not hurting you unless you count the possibility of over-caffeination!) So drink & be merry, and pull out some of these facts next time someone tells you coffee is bad for you.