The Health Benefits of Coffee

Written by Desiderio D. Abeyta, RDN

Place yourself in any city in the world and you’ll find it, or at the very least a version of it.  The wonderful aroma of that alerting bean will poke its head anywhere on this Earth.  What is it?  It’s coffee.  Whether or not you partake, it’s hard to fathom a world where this type of beverage doesn’t exist.  Forget the shops that mutate your very carefully pronounced name of say, “Jane” into “James”.  

Let’s talk about that type of beverage that excites you about the morning.  That bean planting, cherry harvesting and processing, bean drying, milling, exporting and tasting, roasting, grinding, and no whip cream or seven pumps of vanilla having-type of brew. Living in a world where something like this type of healthful elixir exists, really excites a Registered Dietitian, as myself. In a world where people are constantly asking what the best food or beverage is to consume, it’s very easy to get lost in all of the ever-changing information.  But one thing is for certain, coffee is changing in it’s popularity and more and more research is supporting its healthful effects as well as its ability to not only decrease symptoms of certain diseases but also decrease the risk of disease in general.  

So why is this socially acceptable drink so popular?  Socially, it tends to be a no brainer, but the physiological and biological processes will undoubtedly thank you.  Obviously this will be more of the focus for this article. 

First, things first, in a food industry such as ours, we are used to more.  Larger portions, larger beverages, and really more energy input.  But let's call it what it is, excess calories.  Coffee used as a beverage, at it's core (unaltered), actually works with the body in a such a way that it can decrease appetite (when used healthfully) and has been shown to increase the efficiency of your metabolism.  I’m sure most are aware of the social experience that coffee promotes and how these types of “get togethers” can begin to forge friendships, relationships, and business development.  All of which help to improve to what some call “mental hygiene”, which is something that can be explained in more detail in a later post.  But what most do not know is how each cup of coffee is being utilized in the body and how this helps not only to sustain you socially but also biologically.  One cup of regular, American drip coffee contains between 95 and 200 mg of caffeine, approximately 5 hours of alertness, an approximation of 2 calories, no macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat), as well as a dash of Riboflavin, a B vitamin that aids in body growth and red blood cell production, thus providing more oxygen to the body (more energy).

The use of coffee has been shown to have it's obvious benefits.  Not only for the common individual but it has also been shown to show amazing effects for endurance athletes.  Simply, one 8 ounce cup of coffee, 60 minutes before exercise has been shown to increase performance, hopefully Team USA has gotten the memo with Rio just beginning. So what if you’re not an endurance athlete and you partake in much more than 1 cup per day?  Research has shown that 4-5 cups per day can actually reduce the risk of Parkinson’s Disease, the effects of depression, Diabetes, and cardiovascular disease!  So please by all means, start chugging it down.  Obviously it should be noted, that caffeinated beverages may increase sleep insomnia so if sleep is an issue for some of you then it is recommended staying within moderation. Even moderate use of coffee has been found to contain a substantial amount of antioxidants, a disease preventer that swoops up those “excess oxidants” that are produced during your normal day to day.  If that wasn’t enough, coffee also offers a nice boost to your metabolism.

It's surprising to know that in a recent study that those who drink coffee often, have been found to have a 16% increase in their metabolic rate.  Initiating that coffee drinkers may have a better time utilizing nutrients, optimizing gastric waste, as well as a nice excuse to use coffee in the morning to, well, do their business.

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