Research has shown that coffee has many health benefits. People used to think that coffee was just a satisfying addiction, like smoking – but maybe not as bad. Nowadays though, more studies are coming out that point to the idea that this drink is not only harmless, but in many cases may even improve your health.
Coffee is consumed in most cultures around the world and in fact the caffeine contained in that “cup of joe” happens to be the most widely consumed psychoactive drug on the planet. But that little buzz you get from a each cup may not be the only benefit.
Here are five health-related things you should know about your Java:
1. Coffee can make you happier.
According to study done at Harvard, women who drank a few cups per day had a lower risk of depression compared to women who didn’t consume coffee. Similar results were seen with men when the same type of study was performed.
The risk of depression seems to directly correlate with the level of consumption: the more coffee you drink the lower your risk of being blue, which researchers think is a result of the effect of caffeine on mood neurotransmitters.
Note that too much coffee can be over stimulating for some, leading to anxiety and other uncomfortable and unhealthy physical symptoms. The key is to make sure you establish how much coffee and caffeine is tolerable for you.
2. The drink may protect your brain.
The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease has shown that coffee contains a substance that when combined with caffeine can boost levels of something called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF). This is a growth factor that seems to have the ability to ward of Alzheimer’s disease in mice.
The amount of coffee used in the study on mice translates to about four to five cups per day for humans, and this also appears to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. The preventative benefits, researchers speculate, come from the fact that coffee could facilitate new brain cell connections and the formation of new neurons.
3. Coffee may protect you from diabetes.
According to one medical review, drinking coffee reduces the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, and the risk decreases with a higher consumption. Scientists think this may be related to the coffee’s positive effects on the body’s insulin sensitivity. Another possibility is that coffee increases metabolic rate and some people who drink more coffee may eat less total calories throughout the day.
4. It may lower men’s prostate cancer risk.
A past study at Harvard showed that men who drank six cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of developing a particularly deadly form of prostate cancer by 60 percent. This also correlated with a 20 percent decrease in their chance of getting any other type of prostate cancer.
Fortunately for some, and surprisingly, the study also showed that drinking even a small amount of java – even one cup – can decrease prostate cancer risk by 30 percent.
5. Your cup of joe may help prevent cancer.
Research has also shown that coffee could help decrease one’s risk of getting basal cell carcinoma – the most common cancer in the world. Another study showed that females who drank at least three cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of skin cancer by 20 percent. The results of the same study in men showed 9 percent risk reduction.
An important note is that decaf coffee didn’t have the same anti-cancer benefit, so there may be something about the caffeine in coffee or the way it interacts with other compounds in the drink that attenuates cancer risk.