What would the morning be like without a steaming cup of coffee? The smell, the ritual – it’s pure delight. No wonder a trip to Starbucks is so popular! It’s an ingrained habit for many coffee lovers. Research shows two-thirds of Americans drinking at least one cup of coffee per day.

The good news is you don’t have to feel guilty about your daily coffee drinking habit. Studies show that drinking coffee has some surprising health benefits. Let’s look at five ways coffee can enhance your mental and physical health.

Drinking Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

If you love a morning cup of coffee, you’ll appreciate this news. Drinking coffee may lower your risk of Parkinson’s disease. A study showed that rates of Parkinson’s disease dropped as coffee intake rose, but the optimal amount appears to be around 3 cups per day. Risk reduction varied from 30% to 60%, based on the study, with men enjoying greater protection when they drink coffee than women.

What is the magical ingredient in coffee that lowers Parkinson’s risk? Studies show key components in coffee, including caffeine and two compounds called phenylindane and EHT (a trademarked ingredient in coffee) block the abnormal proteins that form in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease.

It Can Make Workouts Easier

It takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter your bloodstream after you drink coffee, but once it does, it may give your workouts a boost. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and it can improve your performance endurance exercise and, possibly, high-intensity exercise too. In fact, caffeine is an ergogenic aid, a substance that improves exercise performance. It also makes exercise feel easier.

One drawback is you’ll get fewer benefits if you drink coffee every day since your body becomes tolerant to the exercise-boosting benefits. So, cut back on coffee a week before a competition and restart it before the big event to get the full performance benefits.

I like coffee because it gives me the illusion that I might be awake. - Lewis Black

Drinking Coffee Can Improve Your Mood

Coffee has a mood-enhancing effect. A study showed that drinking coffee made people feel happier and more energetic. The caffeine in coffee also improves motivation and focus. Studies even show drinking coffee gives your short-term memory a boost.

On the downside, you might feel a bit jittery if you overdo the coffee since caffeine is a stimulant. People metabolize caffeine at varying rates. People who break down caffeine slowly are more likely to experience side effects such as anxiety and heart irregularities. So, know your tolerance level. Caffeine can also cause insomnia, so it’s best to limit caffeinated coffee after 12:00 p.m.

It Lowers Your Risk of Gallstones

Ouch! Who wants gallstones? Coffee may offer some protection against those tiny stones that cause such mayhem. If you’re male, having a few cups of java may lower your risk of this painful affliction. In a study, men who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 45% reduced risk of developing gallstones. Drinking less than that only lowered the risk modestly. Decaffeinated coffee doesn’t offer the same risk reduction.

Coffee Drinking is Good for Your Liver

Your liver and gallbladder have a close, symbiotic relationship. Your liver produces bile, and your gallbladder stores it – and coffee is beneficial for both. A study in BMC Public Health linked drinking coffee with a 21% reduction in the risk of liver disease and a lower risk of dying from chronic liver problems.

Although it’s not clear what components in coffee account for liver health benefits, scientists are looking at kahweol and cafestol, compounds called diterpenes in coffee, as the likely source of protection. Coffee is rich in bioactive compounds, including many antioxidants, that may play a role.

The Bottom Line

Even if you are a coffee drinker, you can rest assured that decades of research have not found a correlation between coffee consumption and cancer and a higher risk of health problems such as cancer. On the contrary, several health benefits seem to come from drinking coffee.

However, drinking a coffee house drink loaded with whipped cream and flavored syrup might offset any health benefits. Be smart with your coffee consumption – but enjoy!

References:

ParkinsonsNewsToday.com. “Report Highlights Potential Benefits of Drinking Coffee in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Including Parkinson’s”

Gottlieb S. More coffee, fewer gallstones. BMJ. 1999;318(7199):1646.

Kennedy, O.J., Fallowfield, J.A., Poole, R. et al. All coffee types decrease the risk of adverse clinical outcomes in chronic liver disease: a UK Biobank study. BMC Public Health 21, 970 (2021). doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-10991-7.

EHT™ coffee extract: A neuroprotective agent and modulator of PP2A methylation with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (S16.006) Kristen Huber, Michael Voronkov, Jose Fernandez, Karl Rouzard, Akira Iishi, Eduardo Perez, Maxwell Stock, Jeff Stock.

Ren Y, Wang C, Xu J, Wang S. Cafestol and Kahweol: A Review on Their Bioactivities and Pharmacological Properties. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(17):4238. Published 2019 Aug 30. doi:10.3390/ijms20174238.

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