What are the health benefits of black coffee?

Research has initially indicated that a cup of coffee increases the risk of heart disease and asthma, “but when you look at the evidence, it’s the opposite, more coffee should be consumed,” says Professor Claire Collins, an expert in nutrition and dietetics at Newcastle University in New South Wales.

Here are the health benefits of black coffee:

  1. Heart Protection:

For decades, coffee has been associated with poor heart health. However, research today suggests that continued coffee consumption can protect the heart. Scientists from the University of Colorado, who examined dietary data and medical records of over 15,000 people, found that compared to non-coffee drinkers, every additional cup of coffee consumed per week resulted in a 7% decrease in the risk of heart failure and an 8% decrease in the risk of stroke.

Experts believe this effect is due to the biologically active compounds in coffee, of which there are over 100. Specifically, polyphenols are thought to reduce oxidative stress, which occurs when there is an imbalance between beneficial and harmful molecules in the body, and inflammation, protecting the heart from damage.

  1. Reduced Risk of Type 2 Diabetes:

Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, and following a healthy diet are evidence-based ways to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, studies suggest that regular coffee consumption may also protect against this condition. A review conducted by researchers from Harvard University in 2014, which looked at 28 previous studies, found that people who drank one cup daily were 8% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to non-coffee drinkers.

  1. Prevention of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Diseases:

Coffee appears to protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, as repeatedly shown by research. Canadian scientists who studied this phenomenon in a research paper in 2018 suggested that this effect could be attributed to compounds called phenylindanes, produced when coffee beans are roasted. It is believed that they prevent the accumulation of proteins called amyloid and tau, which are toxic to brain cells.

  1. Cancer Prevention:

Studies have found that some types of cancer, especially liver and uterine cancer, are less common among coffee drinkers. There is also some evidence that the beverage may protect against oral and skin cancer. While the precise mechanisms behind this are unclear, Professor Collins says that two plant nutrients found in coffee, called cafestol and kahweol, appear to be behind this effect.

  1. Mood and Depression:

The mental effects of coffee are clear – you’ll feel more alert, attentive, and active in the hours following a cup. However, beyond these short-term changes, coffee seems to have long-term effects on mental health. A study conducted by researchers in China found a 24% reduction in the risk of depression among frequent coffee drinkers, those who consumed four and a half cups of coffee daily, compared to those who drank less than one cup daily. This is believed to be because caffeine in coffee increases the expression of neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine (the happiness hormone).

  1. Weight Management:

Research suggests that coffee, in addition to being low in calories, may also boost the body’s calorie-burning capabilities by activating brown fat. The purpose of brown fat, typically stored around the neck, is to generate body heat when exposed to cold temperatures, which occurs by burning calories. This is different from the more common white fat, which accumulates when people consume excess calories.

  1. Increase in Lifespan:

Studies indicate that coffee can increase lifespan. Researchers in Australia, who observed the health habits and coffee drinking of around 450,000 people for over a decade, found that individuals who drank two to three cups of ground coffee daily were up to 27% less likely to die early. The team said that instead of caffeine, other compounds in coffee, such as chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, are likely behind this effect.

  1. Alleviation of Some Headaches:

While too much caffeine can cause headaches, research suggests that coffee can also alleviate them. Professor Collins says, “The stimulant seems to enhance the efficacy of painkillers in large amounts.” A study from the University of Oxford found that taking paracetamol or ibuprofen to treat migraines or tension headaches reduced pain by 25%. However, individuals who took painkillers alongside caffeine reported that their pain levels decreased by half.


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