Studies in the past have suggested that coffee may be harmful to health, but as science has progressed, it has become evident that this early research didn't take into account confounding factors, such as the fact the heavy coffee drinkers also tended to smoke or lead sedentary lifestyles.
Over recent years, evidence has emerged that coffee actually has several surprising health benefits.
#1: Coffee has been shown to help people live longer
Recent evidence has emerged that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of death from a variety of causes, including coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure, and stroke, as well as death associated with cardiovascular causes. It’s also associated with improvements in some conditions that increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, like type 2 diabetes, depression, and obesity.
Coffee is full of other compounds, not just caffeine, which gets all of the negative press. Polyphenols are one of them. Polyphenols are the star players when it comes to heart health. A 2015 study shows that whether the subjects drank caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, they still received the benefits of the polyphenols on their heart health.
#2 Coffee improves cognitive function
There is a growing body of evidence that coffee offers protection against some degenerative diseases that affect cognition, including Alzheimer's, Dementia and Parkinson's disease. This is because it helps to reduce pathological cerebral amyloid deposition (deposits in the blood vessels in the brain that can contribute to cognitive decline).
Caffeine is a stimulant with a diverse range of effects on the central nervous system, including improved attention span and concentration. It has also been shown to reduce mistakes caused by drowsiness in shift workers.
#3 Coffee improves physical performance
Several studies have shown the benefits of caffeine on muscular performance. A literature review in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning in 2012 examined 29 separate studies that measured alterations in short-term performance following caffeine ingestion. 11 of these studies revealed significant improvements in team sports exercise and power-based sports with caffeine ingestion, and 6 of these studies revealed significant benefits of caffeine for resistance training.
A more recent paper published in the European Journal of Sports Science looked specifically at the effects of caffeine on the muscular performance of elite Jiu-Jitsu athletes. This study demonstrated that caffeine increased muscular power, force, and endurance strength in the group of athletes tested.
As an incredible source of antioxidant polyphenols, coffee can play a part in supporting energy. A polyphenol-rich diet will in turn support sleep.
#4 Coffee may help to combat disease
Diabetes is a condition that causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high. The prevalence of diabetes is increasing worldwide, and almost 400 million people currently suffer from it. The majority of people with diabetes have the 'type 2' form, which is caused by resistance to a hormone known as insulin.
Research has shown that coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Some studies have shown this risk reduction to be as high as 50% in habitual coffee drinkers.
It is important to remember that caffeine is a potent stimulant with potential side effects. The beneficial effects of coffee on health are well accepted and backed by a large number of scientific studies. Used in moderation and with respect, it can have many positive health effects.
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