Rich, dark, and mentally energizing (unless you drink decaf), coffee is more than a beverage; it is an experience. For those of us that enjoy a cup or two a day, there is a lot of good news. Steaming hot, over ice, or served as a classic black brew with sugar and milk, there are a few health benefits to make sipping your java a little more pleasing. Moderation is the key to making this drink healthy; however, too much and the celebrated benefits become health concerns.
Enjoying the benefits
Whether you drink cafe con leche or sip espresso, you probably enjoy coffee for the flavor, and also for the caffeine. This natural chemical is found in several plants, not just the beloved bean. It has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, which is why it helps you stay awake and focused. There may be other benefits aside from the short-term mood and memory boost. According to the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, research indicates that regular caffeine intake in midlife may diminish the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease later in life. Caffeine is also known to stimulate the gallbladder, which may be why it is associated with a reduced risk of gallstones. It constricts blood vessels, which may help with headache relief, and it reduces inflammation. There is another benefit to drinking coffee: the antioxidants. The liquid from roasted beans contains a high amount of flavonoid antioxidants, which are known to protect cells from free radical damage.
Watching out for the negative effects
Life isn’t perfect, and neither is coffee. Too much caffeine can cause anxiety, nervousness, and irritability. All those initial good feelings as this chemical hits your nervous system and lifts your mood can spiral out of control later on in the day. Eating plenty of foods that are rich in B vitamins, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids to nourish your nerves can’t hurt. Try eating a bowl of oatmeal or whole wheat toast with your morning cup of joe and snacking on nuts and seeds mid-morning. Caffeine tends to impact your body for about six hours; unless you drink your brew in the morning only it may effect your sleep.
While you may enjoy the jolt and excitement of caffeine, keep in mind the effect this can have on your hormone levels. This chemical causes your adrenal glands to release hormones; overworking your adrenal glands can result in problems with fatigue and insomnia. Why not take a caffeine-free day once a week to give your body a break? Eating a healthy diet can also help. Another downside of too much caffeine is the diuretic effect; it encourages the release of fluids from your body via urination. Be sure to stay hydrated with an extra glass of water or herbal tea for every cup that you drink.
There are pros and cons to drinking coffee. If you love this drink, then enjoy it in moderation. Try putting half a cup in the blender with a few ice cubes, a banana, honey, and creamy coconut milk for your own healthy, blended summer beverage. For an elegant dessert , serve decaf with condensed milk, a dollop of cream, and a drizzle of caramel. Up to three cups a day is generally considered to be safe. Keep in mind that different coffee drinks have different levels of caffeine. Pay attention to your body; if you notice that you are experiencing negative effects, such as irritability, chronic fatigue without your morning brew, or trouble sleeping, then cut back your intake.