Coffee isn’t just a delicious part of our day—for many people, it’s the single most important thing in their diet! Coffee has become a staple of modern life, the fuel that gets us through our work or helps us stay active on the weekends. Thankfully, it’s also an incredibly healthy beverage (without all the cream and sugar and flavor, of course). Here are just a few of the many health benefits of coffee:
Decent Nutrition, Low in Calories
Coffee contains very little in the way of macro and micronutrients, though it does deliver about 118 milligrams of potassium (less than what’s in half a banana). However, you’ll find that it’s very low in calories. That’s right, one cup of coffee contains just TWO calories! It’s less calorie-dense than most other beverages, so you can drink a lot of it without adding unnecessary calories to your diet. As long as you drink it black—both cream and sugar add more calories—you’ll find it’s not going to add unwanted calories to your daily intake.
Rich in Antioxidants
Coffee contains a number of polyphenols and flavonoids, the antioxidants that give it its divine flavor. In fact, coffee contains polyphenols on par with dark cocoa, red wine, and black and green tea. Chlorogenic acid is the primary polyphenol in coffee, and it has been proven to be potentially effective at reducing diabetes, lowering blood pressure, and protecting the body from free radical damage. It’s one of the healthiest foods on the planet thanks to its high antioxidant content.
Studies have proven that moderate caffeine consumption (no more than 1 to 2 cups per day) can improve your cardiovascular health. Not only can it reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, but it can lower total mortality risk and decrease your chances of developing diabetes. Drinking some coffee (emphasis on some) can be a great way to improve your heart health!
Improved Exercise Performance
This is the result of the caffeine in your coffee, and one of the main reasons that it’s a staple of a fitness diet. Caffeine is a stimulant that can help to increase endurance by slowing down the rate at which your body burns glycogen, your primary energy source. By slowing glycogen burn, caffeine preserves your energy stores and helps them to last longer. It’s theorized that caffeine can help the body utilize fat more effectively, making sure your body has more energy for longer.
Increased Brain Function
Did you know that coffee can affect the parts of your brain that control concentration and short-term memory? Some research has also linked coffee with a decrease in the cognitive impairment and decline that is associated with Alzheimer’s, suggesting that it might be able to reduce Alzheimer’s risk. Even decaf coffee has been proven to increase alertness even without the caffeine buzz!
Reduced Pain Sensations
Caffeine has the ability to actually block the nerve endings in your body from sending pain signals to your brain. This acts as a pain reducing mechanism that helps to raise your pain tolerance. One study even found that drinking more coffee raises your tolerance to pain.
That’s right, coffee DOES make you happier! Coffee triggers a release of serotonin and dopamine, both of which are linked to your mood. You’ll find that releasing these two neurotransmitters helps you feel happier and in a better mood. Not only that, but coffee may be able to help protect against depression, keeping your neurochemicals more balanced and decreasing the risk of chemical imbalance that contributes to feelings of depression.