It's hard to imagine going through a full day without our morning cup of java-- actually, make that morning, mid-day, and evening cups of java. Yes, we admit it, we're hooked on the stuff. But, we've been told for years that coffee drinking is a terrible habit-- you've all heard the old "coffee will stunt your growth" lecture at some point in time.
While we're well aware of the cons to drinking coffee, we've learned that the positive benefits can sometimes outweigh the negative effects. So, why have older studies given coffee such a bad rep? The reason is quite simple-- studies that had previously linked coffee consumption to cancer were inadvertently studying coffee drinkers who were also smokers. A 2006 issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch claims that moderate coffee consumption, defined as 3 to 4 cups per day, is actually beneficial to your health. So, to all of our fellow addicts out there, you don't have to feel guilty anymore! Below are reasons why we think it's okay to stay hooked on the stuff.
1. Coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in the American diet
While fruits and veggies are still the richest sources of antioxidants, it turns out that for Americans, coffee is the main basis of antioxidant consumption (according to the Institute of Coffee Studies at Vanderbilt University). Black tea and bananas came in second and third place, respectively. Surprisingly, both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee provide similar amounts of antioxidants.
2. Coffee increases your metabolism
Studies also show that coffee is very beneficial in terms of weight loss. It is a common misconception that coffee is an appetite suppressant, however, your morning cup can significantly speed up metabolism by about 10 percent. The National Research Council on Diet and Health found that metabolic rates will be highest during the first three hours following consumption. Just make sure to skip theadded sugars, syrups, and whipped toppings found in many store-bought coffee drinks.
3. Coffee can improve short-term memory
According to studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, caffeine is a cognitive stimulant that actually boosts brain functioning. Furthermore, coffee reduces levels of beta amyloid, a protein in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer's disease.
4. Coffee lowers the rates of some cancers
According to WebMD, coffee drinkers are 50 percent less likely to get liver cancer. By drinking 2 cups per day, you're also slashing your risk of getting colon cancer by 25 percent. Some studies have also found ties to lower rates of breast and skin cancers as well.
5. Coffee can reduce risk for Type 2 diabetes
WebMD also asserts that coffee contains chemicals that lower blood sugar, making heavy coffee drinkers half as likely to get diabetes as light to non-coffee drinkers. 1-3 cups per day can reduce the risk for diabetes by single digits, but people who drink 6 cups or more per day can slash their chances by up to 54 percent.
6. Coffee is actually good for your teeth
We all know that one of the biggest cons of drinking coffee is a stained smile, but the beverage can also have a positive effect on teeth. According to a 2009 article published in the Wall Street Journal, people who drink coffee are less likely to have cavities. Roasted coffee beans have antibacterial effects against microorganisms like Streptococcus, which play a hand in causing tooth decay.
7. Coffee can help prevent/stop headaches
Have you ever wondered why caffeine is one of the main ingredients in migraine medication like Excedrin Migraine? WebMD explains that blood vessels increase in size during a migraine-- caffeine works to decrease the size of blood vessels before they can affect nerves in the brain. So, drinking coffee in the early stages of a headache can help minimize the severity later on.
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