Your daily cup of coffee may be doing more for you than providing that early-morning pick-me-up.
The health impact of coffee has long been a controversial topic, with advocates touting its antioxidant activity and brain-boosting ability, and detractors detailing downsides such as insomnia, indigestion and an increased heart rate and blood pressure.
But the latest wave of scientific evidence brings a wealth of good news for coffee lovers. Here are the five reasons drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought.
1. Coffee is a potent source of healthful antioxidants.
In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have cited coffee as a major–and in some cases, the primary–dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.
2. Caffeine provides a short-term memory boost.
When a group of volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, about as much contained in a single cup of coffee, Austrian researchers found a surge in the volunteers’ brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory task.
The researchers noted that the memory skills and reaction times of the caffeinated volunteers were also improved when compared to the control group who received a placebo and showed no increase in the brain activity.
3. Coffee may help protect against cognitive decline.
In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia.
In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on the cognitive decline but found no association.
4. Coffee is healthy for your heart.
A landmark Dutch study, which analyzed data from more than 37,000 people over a period of 13 years, found that moderate coffee drinkers (who consumed between two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease as compared to heavy or light coffee drinkers, and nondrinkers.
5. Coffee may help curb certain cancers.
Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day.
Researchers have also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.
Time to give your coffee the ultimate twist.
We rely on coffee to kick start our morning, to get through the day or bear those late night work sessions. But plain coffee can get a bit drab. We won’t advise you unhealthy add-ons like ice-cream or chocolate. Here’s how to make your cuppa stirring, sans calorie pile-up.
Maplelicious: If you want a sweet kick in your coffee, try maple extract. The extract is low on sugar and not as thick as maple syrup. Add two-three drops of the extract in your coffee pot. Rich in flavor, it’s not sticky either, unlike the syrup.
Benefits: Maple extract prevents diabetes, and is good for your skin as well.
Cinnamon fun: Why just limit your love for cinnamon to tea? This spice can make your coffee flavorful, too. Add 2 teaspoon of cinnamon or simply dip a cinnamon stick into your coffee.
Benefits: It is an antioxidant that helps bring down the sugar levels in your body. Cinnamon also helps in boosting your immune system.
Zing in a pod: Cardamom gives coffee an exotic flavor. Ground cardamom seeds with coffee beans or add whole pods to your brew. One crushed cardamom pod per cup of coffee is enough.
Benefits: Adding it not only neutralises the stimulating effect of caffeine but also improves blood circulation and helps lower cholesterol levels.
Spicy Ginger: Ginger adds a bit of spiciness and tanginess, which is perfect to give you the kick you need early in the morning. Add a few slices of ginger root or ground ginger to your early morning coffee.
Benefits: Ginger is digestive and treats stomach bloating. It is soothing on the stomach and calms down a sore throat.
Hazy nuts: Want the flavor of nuts without the calories? Add a little hazelnut oil to your cup of coffee. The oil is strong, so go as per your liking.
Benefits: Hazelnut oil will give your coffee a smoky flavour. It contains Vitamin E, which is good for skin and hair. The oil is easily absorbed by the body and is a great antioxidant.
Cooling peppermint: Peppermint oil is pure fun when added to coffee, as it leaves one refreshed. Add a few drops of peppermint oil to your brew; it can be a bit strong in high doses. After a tiring day, a peppermint coffee is an ideal coffee to help you destress.
Benefits: Peppermint oil helps in fighting bad breath, and is rich in iron and magnesium.
Good old vanilla: Love that vanilla flavor from your childhood? Add a few drops of vanilla extract to your coffee pot or add vanilla beans to your grounded coffee beans, so the flavour infuses well with your coffee.
Benefits: Vanilla extract is a cognitive enhancer. It reduces hunger pangs and helps to relieve stress.
So which flavor are you going to choose to jazz up your coffee? Let us know too.
Hailing from the exquisite valley of Kashmir, I just love the bliss that lies in nature, people, thoughts and ideas. Being a journalist in progress, I love everything which is associated with this profession. Extrovert and sometimes a troublemaker, I believe in turning ideas into reality.