Coffee is often blamed for many health drawbacks such as restlessness, anxiety, irritability, sleeplessness, and even heart disease. But is it true that coffee has no other benefits but to galvanize you into action in the morning? Here is the good news: a growing body of research shows that coffee also has potential health benefits, usually with the proviso to use it “in moderation”. Coffee has a very strong antioxidant capacity that helps prevent tissue damage caused by molecules called oxygen-free radicals. Studies have also shown that coffee may give protection against Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and liver cancer.
- Type 2 diabetes. Coffee contains minerals such as magnesium and chromium, which help the body use the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar (glucose). In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its ability to use insulin and regulate blood sugar effectively. A coffee habit may also increase your resting metabolism rate, which could help keep diabetes at bay.
- Gallstones. Coffee drinkers are less likely to suffer symptomatic gallstone disease, possibly because coffee alters the cholesterol content of the bile produced by the liver.
- Heart rhythm problem. Coffee has been linked to lower risks for heart rhythm disturbances (another heart attack and stroke risk factor) in men and women, and lower risk for strokes in women. In a study of about 130,000 Kaiser Permanente health plan members, people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.
- Parkinson’s disease. Coffee seems to protect men but not women against Parkinson’s disease. One possible explanation for the sex difference may be that estrogen and caffeine need the same enzymes to be metabolized, and estrogen captures those enzymes.
- Cancer. Coffee might have anti-cancer properties. Researchers found that coffee drinkers were 50% less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. But it’s not clear how it might work.
- Weight Loss. Caffeinated drinks, including coffee, may give a temporary boost to your metabolism which potentially aiding weight loss. Drinking coffee can also suppress your appetite and act as a mild diuretic. A diuretic is a substance that causes you to urinate, thus reducing your body’s water content and weight.