I try to live a healthy lifestyle. I consistently eat healthy foods, fit a jog and dog walk into my daily routine, and have a morning cup of joe. Yeah, that’s right, I said it — a cup of joe. Some people think coffee is bad for you. It’s been blamed for everything from impotence to madness. Not so. Scientists in recent years have put coffee under the microscope. And they’ve found that coffee can reduce your risk of serious diseases, make you smarter — and maybe, just maybe, help you shed unwanted pounds.
What? Coffee? You’re kidding me, right? No I’m not.
Researchers at top-tier medical schools started studying coffee a few years back — primarily because coffee contains beneficial compounds that act as antioxidants, reduce inflammation, and regulate insulin. Their research has brought some interesting findings that are today tying coffee to a wide range of health benefits.
Take the study published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) that found that coffee protects against type 2 diabetes. According to the Harvard research team that conducted the study, people who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a 4-year period had an 11% lower type 2 diabetes risk over the subsequent 4 years, compared with people who did not change their intake.
Another study by the University of Southampton and the University of Edinburg published in BMJ Open found that people who drink coffee are less likely to develop liver cancer.
Then there’s the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute that found that men who regularly drink coffee have a lower risk of developing a lethal form of prostrate cancer. And the one published in Circulation: Heart Failure that found that two or more cups of coffee each day could protect against heart failure.
What this all means to my simple mind is that my coffee loves me. So there you have it.
But what about the coffee-brain connection? Does drinking coffee actually make me smarter?
According to the Journal of Nutrition, the answer is yes. Researchers at the National Institute of Aging found the caffeine in coffee not only provides a momentary mental boost but also has long-term effects on our thinking skills and overall brain function.
And losing weight? The research here suggests that people who drink coffee are more prone to lose weight than those who do not. Given what we already know about how caffeine speeds up the metabolic rate, this isn’t surprising in and of itself, but more research is needed to determine if drinking coffee helps you keep weight off.
So to sum up, recent research shows that people who have thought of coffee as an unhealthy habit along the lines of smoking and excessive drinking are wrong. Recent years have brought a lot of revelations about how good coffee is for us. We’ve learned that drinking a cup or more of joe along with daily exercise and healthy food choices (that means large fries and diet pop are off the menu) will help us stay fit. And it’s encouraging that with each new study that comes out, it becomes clearer that drinking coffee might help us live longer.
Now this does not mean that you should run to your neighborhood coffee house every morning. For those that do, they should take a close look at what ValuePenguin put together to illustrate the monthly tab you are racking up — and how much you could save by brewing our own. According to their calculations, if you skipped Starbucks every day for 5 months, you’d save a chunk of change — enough to buy a Nespresso VertuoLine. According to my rough estimate, if you passed on a Grande Caffe Latte five times a week, you’d save enough in 4 months.
Because Starbucks can give your wallet a run of its money, I should point out that I tried one of those Nespresso machines a few months ago only to discover that it is not powerful enough to make the barista-quality coffee I like. So I did a great deal of reading — and spoke with a lot of people — to find a machine that makes a great cup of coffee. I actually found one that in my opinion is better than Starbucks. The machine costs a pretty penny but the cash I save over time will more than offset its cost — and, just as importantly, spare me from standing in those long lines every morning as the customer in front of me orders a Venti, no-foam, triple shot, half-caf, pumpkin spiced latte.