Good news for coffee drinkers! Research has shown that drinking coffee can have a number of health benefits, from helping to burn fat to warding against Parkinson’s disease. As with everything though, moderation is key. Most studies have found health benefits from drinking four to five cups a day – too much can cause anxiety and insomnia.
1. Short-term mental boost
Need a double espresso before you can function in the morning? There’s a reason for that. Caffeine gives you a 45-minute mental boost, according to a study from John Hopkins University. As well as speeding up your reaction times, drinking a cup of coffee can improve your recall for the next 24 hours.
2. May lower risk of Parkinson’s
Experts from Harvard University reviewed a number of studies and concluded that drinking four or five cups of coffee a day can halve the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Drinking coffee may even benefit those who already have the disease according to a recent study, which found that caffeine can help with co-ordination problems and other common symptoms.
3. Burns more calories
There’s a reason why so many fat-burning pills contain caffeine. Research has shown that athletes who take caffeine burn around 15 per cent more calories after exercise. Other studies show that caffeine can increase fat burning by 10% in obese people and as much as 29% in lean individuals.
In addition, consuming two to three cups’ worth of caffeine an hour before exercise can lower levels of perceived muscle pain, say researchers from the University of Illinois.
4. Boosts physical performance
Consuming caffeine causes the body’s adrenaline levels to increase – ready for intense physical exertion (which is why some people can feel jittery after drinking strong coffee).
Caffeine causes the fat cells to break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available to use as fuel. This has the effect of improving physical performance by 11-12 per cent, on average. So if you’re planning to dig the garden or shift some furniture, have a strong cup of coffee about 30 minutes beforehand.
5. May cut diabetes risk
You know that diet plays a key role in type 2 diabetes – but you might be surprised to know that coffee drinkers are less likely to develop the disease. Researchers at Harvard found that people who upped their coffee consumption over a four-year period had an 11 per cent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who didn’t increase their caffeine intake.
Another large-scale review of 18 studies concluded that each cup of coffee was associated with a seven per cent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
6. May lower risk of mouth and throat cancer
There’s another good reason to order that second cappuccino. According to The American Cancer Society, people who drink in excess of four cups of caffeinated coffee every day have a 49 per cent lower risk of developing mouth and throat cancer compared to those who drink it only occasionally.
7. May combat depression
It seems that your morning ‘perk’ could also improve your mood and combat depression. A recent study found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 20 per cent lower risk of suffering from depression than those who drank it rarely or never.
8. May protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Although there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s, scientists are becoming increasingly aware of the role of lifestyle factors in preventing the disease. In addition to exercising regularly and following a Mediterranean diet, it seems drinking coffee may have a protective effect. Research shows that coffee drinkers have up to a 65 per cent lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.