The debate has raged for years: Is coffee good for you or bad for you? Bombarded with scary information on one side and happier information on the other, coffee drinkers have long had to decide whether consuming their favorite drink is actually a good idea.
The Urban Bean Coffee team has compiled the latest research on the subject to help you decide whether coffee is good for you or bad for you. Let's take a look!
Is Coffee Good for You?
Recent research has found that coffee has many health benefits. Want to learn more about the ways that coffee is good for you? Keep reading!
1. Coffee boosts your energy levels
Coffee contains caffeine, a stimulant that gives you energy by preventing the neurotransmitter adenosine from binding to receptors in your brain. Normally, adenosine causes drowsiness; by blocking adenosine, caffeine keeps you awake.
Also, caffeine signals the body to produce adrenaline, the “fight or flight” hormone that increases energy levels and attention. Caffeine signals the pituitary gland to produce hormones, and those hormones signal the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline. (Healthline, The Brain From Top To Bottom)
2. Coffee is full of nutrients
We usually think of nutrients as being found in solid food, but did you know that coffee is packed with essential nutrients? It's a particularly good source of B vitamins. One cup of coffee contains 11% of our daily riboflavin (vitamin B2), 6% of our daily pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), 3% of our daily manganese and potassium, and 2% of our daily magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3). (Healthline)
3. Coffee contains lots of antioxidants
Coffee is full of antioxidants, an important part of our diet. While fruits and veggies are great sources of antioxidants, many people who eat a Western diet actually get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits or vegetables.
Antioxidants are important because they neutralize free radicals, which can be harmful in large amounts, by "donating" electrons to the free radicals. This keeps the free radicals from damaging our proteins and DNA. (Healthline, Healthline)
4. Coffee can help you lose weight
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that caffeine both increases resting metabolic rate and improves thermogenesis (the dissipation of energy through the production of heat). During the study, researchers gave lean and postobese volunteers 100mg of caffeine every two hours over a 12-hour period. Both groups' energy expenditure increased by 8-11% during that 12-hour period. The lean volunteers burned 150 more calories than normal, while the postobese volunteers burned 79 more calories than normal. The researchers concluded that caffeine can promote weight loss. (PubMed)
5. Coffee can help you exercise
You might want to drink a cup of coffee before your next workout. Not only can caffeine improve your exercise performance, but it can also reduce post-workout muscle pain. During a study published in The Journal of Pain, nine college-age women were given either caffeine or a placebo and then exercised their quadriceps muscles. The women who were given caffeine reported less pain one hour later. (American Heart Association, The Journal of Pain)
6. Coffee lowers your risk of death
Lots of recent research has focused on how coffee can reduce your risk of death from various illnesses, from heart disease to cancer. One review of 95 studies found that drinking 2 to 5 cups of coffee per day is associated with reduced mortality. And there's good news for anyone who can't or doesn't want to drink caffeine: even decaf coffee is associated with a lowered risk of death! (The New England Journal of Medicine)
7. Coffee reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Studies have shown that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by anywhere from 7% to 67%. One study, published in the Journal of Natural Products, found two compounds in coffee—cafestol and caffeic acid—that help prevent the disease. These compounds help to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing cells' intake of sugar from the blood and by increasing insulin secretion. Both compounds are found in regular and decaf coffee. (TIME)
8. Coffee reduces the risk of cancer
Studies have found that coffee reduces the risk of multiple kinds of cancer. This may be, in part, because the antioxidants in coffee prevent oxidative stress, which is one cause of cancer.
Coffee protects against colon and liver cancer, in particular. One study showed that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 40%, and another showed that drinking 4-5 cups per day can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 15%. (TIME, Healthline)
9. Coffee reduces the risk of aging-related diseases
According to researchers, coffee contains compounds that may help to reduce inflammation and thus reduce the risk of aging-related diseases. In particular, coffee can help prevent two major aging-related conditions: Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer's and up to a 60% lower risk of Parkinson's. (Healthline)
10. Coffee can boost your mood
Feeling down? Maybe a cup of coffee is what you need. One study found that drinking coffee is linked to positive emotions like happiness, kindness, satisfaction, and affection. In addition, coffee seems to lower the risk of depression and suicide. One study found that women who drank more than three cups of coffee per day were less likely to develop depression; another study found that people who drank more than three cups per day were less likely to commit suicide. (Health, Healthline)
11. Coffee can protect your liver
Coffee has tons of health benefits for your liver. Not only does drinking coffee reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 40% and help keep your liver enzymes at a healthy level, but it can also reduce the risk of cirrhosis by up to 80%. Cirrhosis, which can be caused by diseases like hepatitis and fatty liver disease, is when your liver fills with scar tissue. This makes it harder for your liver to do its job. (Healthline, Johns Hopkins Medicine)
12. Coffee reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke
Coffee protects your circulatory system by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Studies have shown that women who drink coffee are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, and also that coffee drinkers may have a 20% lower risk of stroke. However, it's important to note that people who metabolize coffee slowly may have an increased risk of heart attacks. (Healthline, PubMed)
13. Coffee strengthens your DNA
A 2015 study in the European Journal of Nutrition found that drinking dark roast coffee every day can strengthen DNA by decreasing spontaneous strand breaks. This is important because strand breaks can lead to cancer and other health issues.
During the study, half of the participants drank cold brew coffee daily for four weeks, while the others drank water instead. After four weeks, the participants who’d drunk coffee had significantly fewer DNA strand breaks. (PubMed)
14. Coffee is good for your teeth
Did you know that strong black coffee can prevent cavities by killing bacteria on your teeth? In a 2009 study published in the Journal for Conservative Dentistry, researchers found that people who drank coffee without added sweetener had fewer cavities than people who drank other beverages or drank coffee with sweetener. So if you're a fan of black coffee, drink up, but don't forget to brush your teeth as well! (NCBI)
15. Coffee can relieve migraine headaches
One cause of migraine headaches is vasodilation, when the blood vessels in your head expand and increase blood flow. Caffeine relieves migraines by causing the opposite effect: vasoconstriction, when the blood vessels narrow and restrict blood flow. Because of caffeine's vasoconstricting effect, some over-the-counter and prescription medicines contain it as one of the active ingredients. And of course, a cup of caffeinated coffee can help headaches too! (Insider)
Is Coffee Bad for You?
Like most things in life, coffee isn't all good. In fact, sometimes coffee is bad for you. Let's take a look at the reasons why:
1. Unfiltered coffee can mess with cholesterol levels
Next time you want to brew a cup of coffee, consider which brewing method you'll be using. Methods that don't use paper filters—like French press or Turkish coffee—don't filter out compounds called diterpenes. These compounds raise LDL, your bad cholesterol, while lowering HDL, your good cholesterol. Researchers aren't sure whether these changes are clinically significant, but they caution that people who have pre-existing cholesterol issues shouldn't drink unfiltered coffee. (The New York Times)
2. Coffee increases blood pressure
Caffeine raises your blood pressure, so people who already have elevated blood pressure should be careful when considering whether to drink caffeinated coffee. While some people who drink coffee regularly stop having a raised-blood-pressure response to caffeine, a 2004 study published in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension found that half of the participants continued to have elevated blood pressure even after consuming caffeine regularly. (PubMed)
3. Coffee can exacerbate anxiety
Caffeinated coffee can cause or exacerbate anxiety, jitteriness, and heart palpitations, especially when drunk in large quantities. It can even cause panic attacks. If you experience these symptoms after drinking coffee, you may want to consider switching to decaf coffee or an alternative decaffeinated drink. (Healthline)
4. Coffee can disturb your sleep
While caffeinated coffee can boost your energy and help you perform tasks better after a bad night of sleep, you should be careful with your coffee routine. Caffeine can disturb your sleep the next night, especially if you drink too much coffee, or too close to bedtime. (PubMed, American Heart Association)
5. Coffee can dehydrate you
When you first drink coffee, it has a diuretic effect, causing dehydration. Your body adjusts to caffeine and this effect goes away after a few days of consistent coffee consumption, but people who drink coffee less consistently will still experience dehydration and its accompanying symptoms, like headaches and lethargy. (Health)
6. Coffee can cause problems during pregnancy
You've probably heard that women should limit their caffeine intake during pregnancy. While researchers haven't conclusively determined whether caffeine is safe or unsafe during pregnancy, one meta-analysis found that drinking large amounts of coffee (as opposed to low amounts or none at all) was associated with low birth weight, preterm birth, and pregnancy loss. For this reason, pregnant women are advised to consume no more than 200mg of caffeine, or about 2 cups of coffee, per day. (PubMed, UK National Health Service)
7. Coffee can be harmful to poor metabolizers
Some of coffee's effects on your body depend on your genes, which determine whether you metabolize caffeine quickly or slowly. People who metabolize caffeine slowly are more at risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, and prediabetes after drinking coffee. And while fast metabolizers can get an athletic boost from caffeine, slow metabolizers will experience inhibited athletic performance instead. (Health)
8. Added ingredients can be harmful to your health
While coffee itself has many health benefits, those benefits are best enjoyed by drinking black coffee. If you add high-calorie ingredients like cream, sugar, or syrups to your coffee, you'll experience adverse health effects. Even if adding sugar to your coffee doesn't cause you to exceed your recommended daily calories, it can still cause health problems because it's considered a harmful ingredient. (American Heart Association)
So, Is Coffee Good for You or Bad for You?
Drinking coffee clearly comes with both health benefits and health risks. While coffee can boost your energy, prevent disease, and help you live longer, coffee consumption can be risky for those who have health conditions—like high blood pressure, cholesterol problems, or anxiety—that can be exacerbated by caffeine. If you're not sure whether you should drink caffeinated coffee, talk to your doctor. And if you're already enjoying all the benefits of coffee with none of the drawbacks, keep drinking your daily cup of joe. Your body will thank you.