By Justinne Lou Go, RND
QUEEN of Beverages: Next to water, coffee is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. This alluringly fragrant drink is enjoyed by many not only for its taste, but mostly for its energy-boosting caffeine. However, you may be enjoying more benefits than just these characteristics, particularly in your health.
There have been several studies on coffee showing its multiple health advantages and these are actually not only attributed to its caffeine content, but to its antioxidant components (polyphenolic compounds) as well—chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid.
Go Black. We’re not just talking about any kind of coffee though; we’re talking about simple black coffee—no added sugar, creamer, whatsoever. Having sugar and creamer in your coffee, as when having instant or 3-in-1 coffee, only reduces its potential benefits by giving you unnecessary calories and substances like artificial sweeteners and flavorings. So, don’t even think about frappes or energy drinks.
In terms of caffeine content, different roasts vary from one another; darker roasts have less caffeine.
Wealth of Health. Contrary to the impression that coffee may need to be avoided by pregnant women or people with hypertension, this ubiquitous beverage has been shown to have more benefits than we think.
1. One of the richest sources of antioxidants
Coffee contains the highest amounts of polyphenols than cocoa and tea. For many, this even accounts for the biggest contributor of antioxidants in their diet. But, that doesn’t mean you should make this your sole source of antioxidants. You still need your daily dose of vegetables and fruits!
2. Prevents cancer and diabetes mellitus
As mentioned, the antioxidant compounds on coffee—chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid—are responsible for boosting your immune system and preventing these diseases by increasing the antioxidant levels in your body.
3. Protects your heart, brain and liver
Drinking coffee does not immediately raise your blood pressure even if you have hypertension, unless you drink more than your body can handle. In fact, regular coffee drinkers have been shown to benefit from the protective effects of coffee as compared to occasional drinkers.
4. Helps you burn fat more efficiently
Coffee helps release fatty acids to be used as energy.
5. Boosts physical/athletic performance
Athletes who have taken a cup of coffee before their competitions have been shown to have improved performance without a significant raise in blood pressure and blood sugar after the race/game. So, you might want to consider enjoying a cup before your workout.
Dose and Don’t’s. A cup of joe contains an average of 95 milligrams of caffeine. Recommendations for coffee consumption can range from two to six cups per day according to research; but, the general recommendation which provides the most benefits of coffee, especially the disease-preventing ones, is a moderate intake of about two to three cups (16-24 oz) or about 200-300 milligrams of caffeine per day. This applies to both healthy people and people with cardiometabolic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Although most pregnant women would avoid coffee, they can actually have a maximum of two cups per day.
Metabolism matters. While we now know that coffee consumed in moderation is generally safe and healthy, there is also the detail about metabolism differences between individuals—one may be a “slow” metabolizer while another, a normal metabolizer of coffee. Nutrigenomic studies have shown that about half of us have the gene variant that makes us “slow” metabolizers, while the other half are free to enjoy their cuppa without suffering from unwanted effects.
Slow caffeine metabolizers are unable to process caffeine effectively. These people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, which causes them to stay awake much longer, approximately up to nine hours. For some, more adverse effects such as palpitation, migraine, and jitteriness are experienced. If this is the case for you, then you definitely have to reduce your intake or avoid coffee altogether, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
So, go ahead and enjoy your favorite cuppa, whether you’re a slow metabolizer or not. You don’t have to be deprived of this sensational treat; it’s just a matter of timing, moderation, and brew choice. The only downside to drinking your cuppa regularly is getting your teeth stained but no worries, that’s only reason to eat apples more regularly too, as this helps whiten teeth. Other than that, the health benefits definitely outweigh the possible risks.