Most of us drink coffee for either the caffeine boost or because we enjoy the taste. But studies have shown that coffee can do much more than keep you alert throughout the day. Coffee is actually one of the healthiest drinks around, especially if you keep it black.
1. It Protects the Liver
Multiple studies have shown that regular coffee drinking can prevent cirrhosis of the liver (a type of scarring that damages liver function). Even better, a recent study in the Hepatology Journal shows that you can get the same benefits from decaf coffee.
2. It Prevents Cavities
This one might seem counterintuitive since we all know coffee can permanently stain your teeth, but coffee actually fights a cavity-causing bacteria known as Streptococcus Mutans or S. Mutans. So you might end up with coffee stains, but you're less likely to have nasty cavities. Unfortunately, this is only true if you're drinking black coffee; adding sugar or milk completely negates the effect.
3. It's Full of Antioxidants
The term "antioxidants" probably conjures to mind images of pomegranate juice and baskets full of fruit, but coffee has more antioxidants than any fruit. Studies show that coffee may actually have as much as 600% more antioxidants than anything else in the typical Western diet. Antioxidants keep your skin and hair healthy, and they might even prevent certain types of cancer.
4. It Boosts Your Life Expectancy
A study from Harvard showed that drinking one cup of coffee may extend your lifespan by as much as 6%. The numbers get even better if you drink more, with an 8% longer life expectancy for people who drink three or more cups per day and a 15% longer life expectancy for people who drink five cups or more per day. Of course, this only happens if you still manage to sleep well at night; the cost of sleep deprivation easily outweighs the advantages of coffee.
5. It Improves Your Memory
With longer lifespans, we've also seen the rise of dementia, especially Alzheimer's, and we're all scrambling to keep our memories as long as we can. Luckily your daily dose of coffee can help: coffee has been linked to improved short term memory AND long term memory.
6. It Can Also Help You Lose Weight
The caffeine in your coffee does a lot more than keep you alert. It can also boost your metabolism by anywhere from 3% to 11% for up to five hours after your cuppa. So if you have a coffee with breakfast and another one at lunch time, you're giving yourself a metabolism boost that continues all day long.
This is also why green tea is an effective tool for weight loss, and why caffeine is one of the main active ingredient in almost every weight loss supplement ever created. It should be noted that this benefit only applies if you're drinking your coffee black or with minimal sugar/milk.
7. It Reduces Your Risk of Parkinson's
Parkinson's is another disease that is on the rise thanks to our growing elderly population, although it can affect young people too. Regular coffee consumption reduces the risk of Parkinson's in both men and women by as much as 58%. If you drink more than five cups a day that number jumps up to 60%. This makes coffee one of the most effective ways to prevent this devastating disease.
8. It Can Reduce the Risk of Depression and Suicide
So far studies about coffee and depression have only been done on women, but the results are promising. One study that followed 86,000 female nurses over the course of 10 years has discovered that coffee drinkers had reduced risks of suicide.
Another 10-year study, this one following over 50,000 women, showed that women who regularly drink coffee were 20% less likely to suffer from depression. In a time when depression rates and suicide numbers are skyrocketing, this might be one of the best arguments for coffee around.
9. It can Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Coffee can reduce the risk of some types of cancer, most notably colorectal cancer. Drinking as little as two or three cups of coffee per day can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by as much as 26%.
10. It Can Prevent Retinal Damage
Another common problem that is only becoming more common is retinal damage caused by oxidative stress. Some of this happens naturally as we age, some is caused by intensely staring at screens for too many hours a day, but it all has the same result: loss of vision and sometimes extreme pain. Coffee has high concentrations of an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to prevent the oxidative stress that causes retinal damage.
Coffee is a wonderful thing, and not just because it keeps you awake, but there are a few important caveats to remember. The most important one is that almost all of these benefits disappear the moment you add milk or sugar to your coffee—so if you're trying to find an excuse for those overpriced caramel cappuccinos, you won't find it here.
What you will find is a good reason to train your body to enjoy the bitter taste of black coffee. And if you're already drinking your coffee black, it's time to give yourself a big pat on the back.