I love my coffee. It wakes me up every morning (otherwise I’m a zombie the whole day), and it’s part of some of my favorite rituals. Whenever I’m reading a book, meeting up with friends, writing in my journal, I usually have a big mug of coffee by my side. It’s not just a source of caffeine; it’s a source of comfort.
So I was ecstatic to find out that moderate amounts of coffee about one to three cups a day) can actually boost my health.
Coffee can lower your risk for cancer
Cancer is associated with high liver enzyme activity. Coffee helps lower those levels, through the chemicals cafestol and kahweol. Coffee beans are also rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants, called chlorogenic acid (which has similar effects to the antioxidants found in wine).
Note, however, that both these chemicals can increase your cholesterol levels (but just by a small amount). So, try taking instant coffee, which as less effect on cholesterol than brewed coffee.
Another benefit of coffee? It can help prevent cirrhosis of the liver, an unfortunate effect of too much alcohol. But don’t think that three cups of coffee a day gives you license to get drunk every night—take everything (coffee and alcohol) in moderation.
Coffee can lower your risk for gallstones
In one study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, men who took three cups of coffee a day had lower chances of developing gallstones. (The effect seems to be more pronounced in men.) Scientists are still trying to understand why, though one strong theory is that coffee lowers the flow of bile, which is a key component in the development of gallstones.
Coffee can decrease your risk for heart attacks
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who drank three cups of coffee a day had lower risk for heart disease. Researchers believe this is connected to how antioxidants can minimize inflammation.
How much coffee you should drink
Not all cups of coffee are the same. Brewed, instant, and drip coffee (as well as the strength of different coffee blends) all have different levels of antioxidants and other healthy chemicals. A small, five-ounce cup of drip coffee has about 30 more milligrams of caffeine than one made with a percolator (decaf has about 3 milligrams of caffeine). Some pain relievers also contain about a hundred or more milligrams of caffeine. A rule of thumb is to drink about 3 cups of coffee a day, and to have the last cup before 5 pm so it doesn’t interfere with getting a good night’s sleep.
Photo from forum.philboxing.com