The Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

Conde Nast Digital StudioConde Nast Digital StudioBy Sarah-Jane Bedwell, Self magazine

"Drink a cup of joe and call me in the morning."

Don't be surprised if you hear your doctors say those words soon. You may not think of coffee as healthy, but actually it's the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet (not because it has more antioxidants than any other food, but because of foods/drinks Americans regularly consume, it has the highest levels). In honor of today being National Coffee Day, I wanted to share some of these benefits with you!

You are probably already familiar with the heart health and anti-aging benefits of antioxidants, but antioxidants and other compounds in coffee have been shown to do more than just that. The antioxidants in coffee have been shown to lower the risk for several types of cancer.

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Even the caffeine in coffee appears to have some benefits. In fact, a recent study found that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day were 15% less likely to develop depression over the 10-year study period, compared with women who consumed one cup or less per day. Women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk. Women who drank decaf didn't show a similar reduction in depression rates.

Other research has shown that the caffeine in just one cup of coffee can temporarily raise the metabolism by 15%, and many workout warriors have noticed that a cup of java before exercising can help them workout more intensely. Some studies suggest that the caffeine in coffee may also help prevent Parkinson's disease.

But your coffee doesn't have to be caffeinated to provide health benefits. Research suggests that coffee, whether caffeinated or not may reduce the risk of diabetes.

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With all these benefits, it may seem like the more coffee you drink, the better. Not true. Drinking too much coffee (especially caffeinated) can lead to anxiety and insomnia, both of which can actually increase your risk for depression. Not to mention, it can also lead to increased heart rate and blood pressure in some people.

My recommendation? Enjoy 2-3 cups of joe per day, preferably before 3pm (to avoid negative effects on your sleep). Also, skip most of the add-ins as most of the benefits mentioned above were found to be from black coffee. Plus too many syrups and creams can add unwanted calories. So brew a fresh cup today and drink to your health!

Want to win a free cup? SELF is giving away 100 $10 Dunkin Donuts gift cards in honor of National Coffee Day!


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