Don’t Ever Take Your Cup of Coffee for Granted

Plenty of confirmation your morning concoction supports good nutrition and offers numerous health benefits

by Manny Alvarez, MD | Updated 08 Sep 2017 at 9:40 AM

How do you feel about coffee? If you live in America, chances are that you drink it regularly.

At several hundred million cups per day, Americans have turned coffee drinking into more than a nice addition to breakfast. It’s an art form.

You might have strong feelings about which kind and what flavor you drink, and you probably consume your concoction religiously at home or in a favorite shop.

While you probably don't need more reasons to keep up your coffee routine, one study might just give you another anyway.

Recently, Spanish researchers from the Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, studied data on 20,000 people to find out the health effects of coffee. For even better accuracy, the study spanned a 10-year time period.

The researchers then used these extensive data to compare the health of coffee drinkers to those who don't enjoy the beverage as regularly. What did the researchers find?

To the delight of coffee lovers everywhere, the study showed that drinking coffee may reduce a person's risk of death by 64 percent. Even those over the age of 45 could lower their risk of death by 30 percent with two extra cups per day.

In addition, researchers studied to find the amount of coffee to drink that would give the best results, and what they found might just encourage you to drink more. In fact, the magic number of cups for the healthiest individuals was not one, but four cups each day.

Related: Cup of Joe Just What the Doctor Ordered

You always knew you couldn't survive without coffee.

Coffee boosts your health. Unlike soft drinks and other sugary beverages out there, coffee actually supports good nutrition. It has health benefits beyond empty calories and social pleasure, and more studies are suggesting a boost in health for people who drink it regularly.

Let's look at a few of the nutrients you're getting in with every cup of coffee you drink:

  • Caffeine: This notorious ingredient in coffee gives you energy, boosts your mood, and improves your memory.
  • Vitamin B2: This essential vitamin helps the body convert carbohydrates into energy; promotes healthy skin, hair and eyes; and helps the body metabolize proteins and fats.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium regulates your blood pressure, promotes a regular heart rate, and keeps your bones nice and strong.
  • Potassium: This necessary electrolyte helps the muscles contract properly, regulates your body's water balance, and conducts nerve impulses.
  • Polyphenols: This antioxidant is prevalent in many plant-based foods and is known for its effectiveness against disease.
  • Hydrocinnamic acids: This helpful addition neutralizes free radicals in the body and prevents oxidative stress.

Although coffee doesn't have a significant amount of macronutrients, it does give people a huge source of antioxidants.

In fact, many Americans gain most of their antioxidants from this drink versus fruits and vegetables. While you'll definitely get the best antioxidants from plant-based sources, coffee certainly can support good nutrition in your diet.

Does coffee prevent disease? Perhaps due to the drink's many antioxidants, coffee does seem to lower the risk of several common diseases. Again, you should still get vitamins and antioxidants from a variety of sources, but coffee can play a role here, too.

Heart health. Researchers have long searched for the best foods and lifestyle routines that support better heart health for people. When looking into whether to add coffee to that regimen, experts differ in opinion.

Related: 9 Foods to Help Prevent Memory Loss

However, one European study in 2012 suggested that drinking moderate amounts of coffee could decrease the risk of heart failure. According to the research, this moderate consumption was a maximum of four 8-ounce cups per day, leading to a decreased risk of 11 percent.

Diabetes. Another helpful effect of coffee is its possible protection against diabetes. According to researchers from UCLA, the drink actually increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), which regulates testosterone and estrogen in the body.

These two hormones do contribute to the risk of type 2 diabetes. Research from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that coffee may decrease this risk by over 10 percent.

Colon cancer. Many patients suffer from colon cancer each year, but research from the University of Southern California Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center shows that coffee can protect against it. In this study, the researchers analyzed data from over 9,000 people.

Related: Give Up Your Coffee for a Caffeine Bracelet? One Startup Hopes So

They found that those who drank at least one or two cups per day decreased their risk by 26 percent. For those who drank more than 2.5 cups per day, their risk decreased by a whopping 50 percent. Scientists attribute these possible disease-fighting properties of coffee to the many antioxidants it contains.

Over the years, coffee has gotten a bad reputation for its caffeine and sugary additions. However, current research shows that it may have many benefits, including fighting disease. With this new expert encouragement, you now have no reason to skip your daily cup of joe.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's senior managing health editor. He also serves as chairman of the department of obstetrics/gynecology and reproductive science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. This Fox News article is used by permission; it also appeared at AskDrManny.com.

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