My daily coffee consumption goes up every fall, as the days grow shorter, the mornings darker and colder. Coffee wakes me up and keeps me going throughout the morning, providing comfort along with caffeine. I’m part of the majority – according to the National Coffee Association, coffee consumption has far surpassed that of soft drinks in the US, with 64% of adults needing their daily cuppa Joe this year, a huge jump from 51% in 2010. Fortunately, we are learning more and more about the health benefits of coffee – it’s far more than just a delicious stimulant.
Like dark chocolate, coffee is packed with antioxidants that according to the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide, may offer some cardiovascular protection. Coffee drinkers are also less likely to suffer symptomatic gallstone disease. Research also indicates it may reduce the likelihood of developing diabetes – studies link frequent coffee consumption (4 cups/day or more) with a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Moderate drinkers may experience lower rates of heart disease and stroke; those who consume over 5 cups a day, however, increase their risk.
Coffee is also a good thing for sun worshippers – a 2011 study presented at a conference for The American Association for Cancer Research showed that women who drank three cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of developing basal cell carcinomas by 20%, compared to non-coffee drinkers.
And it’s no surprise that coffee can keep you more alert at work, elevating your mood and making you feel good. It can even give your social life a boost, providing an opportunity to regularly connect with friends and coworkers, even for a short time.
Of course coffee isn’t all good news – some fancy coffee drinks are high in fat and sugar, and too much of a good thing can cause side effects like sleeplessness and heartburn. But once you’ve found your personal coffee balance, you can feel better about going back for that second cup.