Coffee is unarguably one of the most popular drinks worldwide; whether hot or cold, millions of people globally enjoy topping up their caffeine levels at all times of day or night wherever they are in the world.
Drinking coffee has a number of beneficial characteristics that can help boost a person’s health and well-being; but like many things in life coffee also has a number of disadvantages, some of which can be potentially harmful to health and well-being.
There have been many studies into both the beneficial and detrimental aspects of drinking coffee through the years and there remains arguments on both sides of the table. Experts agree that there are reasons to drink coffee for health benefits; but these must be tempered by reasons why coffee should be avoided, or at least have its’ consumption moderated.
Getting the best benefits of coffee
Coffee of course comes in many different varieties and blends, from instant coffee through to ground filter coffee and whole beans.
Each type of coffee can affect – positively and negatively – the coffee experience; from taste, convenience and quality, there’s arguments for each.
Instant coffee might win for convenience, while ground coffee provides a more intense flavor experience. However, for coffee connoisseurs the whole bean is often the go-to choice as whole beans offer the most intense flavor experience whilst being the most healthy due to more concentrated amounts of potassium which is largely removed from instant coffee.
Ground and whole bean coffee also has higher concentrations of caffeine compared to instant coffee counterparts. The main difference between ground coffee and whole beans is that ground coffee is mostly pre-ground and bagged in advance which might lead to a reduction in flavor; while whole beans are generally ground just before brewing, helping to maintain the quality and strength of the flavor.
Whole bean coffee can be ground in store upon purchase, but many coffee connoisseurs invest in a portable coffee grinder that they can take wherever they go in order to grind their own whole bean supplies as required. Puzzled which one to choose? Check out some unbiased reviews, for example this portable coffee grinders for French press compilation.
5 Benefits of drinking coffee
Here are just five of the many potential benefits of drinking coffee.
Coffee can help combat or control diabetes
Drinking coffee has been shown in scientific studies to lower the chances of contracting Type 2 Diabetes; while those already suffering may find the negative effects of their affliction being reduced.
This is because coffee contains some antioxidants that can help to suppress insulin sensitivity in the body, helping to regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.
Drinking a moderate amount of coffee each day also reduces the chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes by a not inconsiderable amount with some researchers estimating 3-4 cups of coffee a day could reduce the chances of Type II Diabetes by around 30%.
A preventative for cancer
It has been estimated that around one person in three will develop cancer in their lifetime. However research has shown coffee to be a potent weapon in the fight against cancer and can help to reduce a person’s chances of contracting some times of cancer.
A natural diuretic and laxative, drinking coffee could decrease the chances of developing prostate cancer in men, endometrial cancer in women and liver and colon cancer in both sexes. Coffee could also lower the chances of developing some forms of skin cancer, most notably basal cell carcinoma which is the most common skin cancer.
Helps us to stay alert and focused
Coffee has a stimulating effect on the brain, providing a much needed boost when the brain begins to tire.
This boost helps the brain to remain focused and eases the body’s fatigue as the caffeine stimulates adrenaline production in the body. This is why many people drink coffee prior to a workout as the caffeine helps improve the efficiency of exercise which in turn can help the body burn more body fat in order to fuel the body.
Coffee as a weight-loss mechanism
In addition to its’ beneficial effects during workouts, drinking coffee can help dieters to lose weight.
With very few calories, coffee is rich in magnesium and potassium which the body uses to create insulin. This in turn helps maintain regular blood sugar levels without introducing fake sugars and other ingredients into the body that might be converted and stored as fat.
In turn, coffee drinkers are less likely to binge on sweet treats or snacks, or drink sugar-filled soft drinks which can all compromise a person’s weight loss efforts and lead to dental cavities as sugar is a major factor in tooth enamel erosion.
Social elements good for mental health
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of coffee come from its’ acceptance as a social normality, bringing friends and family together for a catch-up chat or enjoyed after a family meal.
Whatever the occasion, caffeine helps to stimulate the creation of chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and other substances used in cognitive functions all of which help to elevate mood and ease depression or stress.
While drinking an excessive amount of coffee might not be great for blood pressure, the scent of coffee can have the opposite effect and can actually lower blood pressure as well as calm breathing and help relax the body.
3 Negatives of drinking coffee
As with coffee benefits, there are many potential negatives associated with drinking coffee; here’s just three possible issues that can be attributed to coffee intake.
Can’t sleep? Coffee might be to blame
As a brain and body stimulant, drinking too much coffee or consuming coffee at the wrong time can lead to sleep problems such as insomnia or a need to visit the toilet during the night which can affect the quality of our sleep.
A lack of sleep or poor quality sleep can leave us feeling lethargic and irritable the next day so if we’re struggling to get enough quality rest then it might be worth cutting back on our caffeine intake.
Too much coffee can also trigger anxiety symptoms and increase heart palpitations and arrhythmia in some severe cases.
Coffee can affect conception, pregnancy and child-birth
For women, drinking too much coffee when pregnant can prove harmful as the fetus is highly susceptible to the effects of caffeine which can be passed into the womb. Ingesting too much caffeine can also heighten the risk of miscarriage when trying to conceive so those trying for a family may need to be careful and monitor their caffeine intake.
With added effects to blood-pressure which can also be increased by over-consumption of coffee it might be an idea to avoid coffee for a time if looking to conceive.
Caffeine can also be passed to babies in breast-milk, so while new breastfeeding mothers might be tempted by coffee to help alleviate sleepiness nights it may be that the coffee is having the wrong effect by being passed to the baby which in turn makes them restless and irritable.
Coffee is bad for cholesterol
Given some of the compounds found in coffee, too much coffee can lead to increased levels of LDL cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol can cause hardening of the arteries which can in turn inhibit the flow of blood to the heart and deprive it of oxygen.
Drinking filter coffee can help reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol found in our favorite brew with most of the compounds filtered out at the brewing stage.
So, there’s plenty to consider when it comes to coffee drinking, not only from the types of coffee available but also the benefits and negatives of coffee consumption on our health and mental well-being.
Too much of anything can be bad; but in moderation we can all continue to enjoy coffee and enjoy most of the benefits it brings. Whether our enjoyment comes from instant coffee or whole bean coffee ground in a portable coffee grinder, the benefits of drinking coffee might outweigh the negatives depending on our own lifestyles.
Related: Easy Tiramisu Recipe