by Adam Corl
What is my daily cup of coffee doing to my body? This question popped into my head the other day, shortly after I downed my third shot of espresso. I’m probably not alone in wondering what my daily brew is doing to me, as most statistics suggest that over 100 million Americans drink coffee on the regular.
Thinking back to what I had heard in the news recently, I realized that we have all been getting some pretty mixed messages, and decided to do a little research.
Research seems to show that coffee is a bit of a mixed bag. But fear not my fellow caffeine-junkies, it looks like the benefits of coffee could outweigh their downsides.
The health benefits of coffee go way beyond helping us maintain an – ahem – regular schedule. It turns out that drinking coffee has been linked to a ton of really cool health benefits.
Coffee keeps your mind sharp. Multiple studies have shown that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee (with caffeine) are less likely to develop disease like Alzheimer’s and dementia. The biggest benefits were seen in those people who drank coffee on a regularly into old-age.
Grandma isn’t the only one getting something out of coffee though. There is now evidence that coffee helps with short-term recall. Many studies have shown a strong connection between coffee drinking and scoring higher on tests (compared to people who didn’t drink coffee).
It’s also a great source of antioxidants, which are substances that help our bodies fight damage to our cells. This might explain why drinking coffee has been linked to lower rates of cancer.
Cancer seems to be a hot button issue when it comes to drinking coffee. Some studies have found substances in coffee that have the potential to cause cancer. I freaked out a little when I read this, and immediately had visions of myself shaking outside of Starbucks doing a mean impression of Courtney Love. But it turns out that despite these findings there has not been any data that suggests coffee gives you cancer, and most scientists believe that the levels of these cancer-causing substances are actually too low to present a real risk to even heavy coffee drinkers.
There is also no hard evidence linking coffee with blood pressure or coronary artery disease. The studies did show however, that people who drank coffee were more likely to have other risk factors for heart disease (like smoking and bad diets).
There is bad news for pregnant women and people who have anemia. There is some pretty strong evidence that drinking a lot of coffee could increase your chance of complications during pregnancy. Though this trend was seen much more in women who drank more than 6 cups of coffee a day. Coffee has also been associated with iron deficiency, and has a few substances in it that actually affect your body’s ability to absorb iron and make new red blood cells.