Coffee – a daily morning ritual for millions of Americans. At first glance it may not seem like it, but thanks to its high levels of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients, it can be quite healthy. In fact, studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.
Coffee go-go time: The reason you get a quick wakeup call after chugging a mug of coffee has to do with the way caffeine tricks your brain. Not only is caffeine a brain stimulant, but it also blocks receptors for a chemical called adenosine, which normally prevents the release of excitatory brain chemicals. With adenosine out of the way, these brain-sparking chemicals can flow more freely. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system by promoting the release of other neurotransmitters, including noradrenaline, dopamine and serotonin. All of this combined gives you a surge of energy, helping improve memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function. As we know, bolstered mental performance helps slow age-related mental decline.
It showed that people—particularly those who were ages 70 and over—who took in more caffeine scored better on tests of mental function. Also, some studies have shown improved long-term memory performance and thinking ability in regular caffeine consumers.
New research reveals what gives coffee its protective properties for brain health, and why it can help keep Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease at bay. There are some correlations that correspond to a decreased risk of developing cognitive impairments and disease. For Alzheimer’s, results from studies suggest that coffee compounds could provide a neuroprotective effect by inhibiting these proteins from forming the terminally disruptive clumps and plaque tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
There is a set of compounds known as phenylindanes that form during the roasting process and give coffee its paradoxically enjoyable bitterness. More than any other compound of those examined in this study, the research team found that phenylindanes inhibit both amyloid beta and tau, which are toxic proteins. The excessive buildup of amyloid beta and tau in the brain is a key factor in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. In laboratory tests, it appears that a longer roasting time causes the coffee beans to produce more phenylindanes. This suggests that dark roasted coffee — whether regular or decaf — has the strongest protective effect on the brain.
Coffee is also associated with many health benefits. It contains hundreds of bioactive compounds that contribute to its powerful health benefits. Many of these compounds are antioxidants, which fight the damage caused by free radicals in your cells.
-Drink coffee to get fit! Coffee can help burn fat because caffeine can boost your metabolic rate by 3–11%. This aids in weight loss and fat reduction. Caffeine also increases epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in your blood, which is the fight-or-flight hormone, which prepares your body for intense physical exertion. As the caffeine breaks down body fat it makes free fatty acids available as fuel, which can improve physical performance by 11–12%, on average. Therefore, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about half an hour before you head to the gym.
These essential nutrients in coffee inform of more health benefits:
Chlorogenic acids (CGAs): These polyphenol antioxidants may benefit some biological pathways, such as blood sugar metabolism and high blood pressure, both of which are related to the risk of age-related mental decline.
Cafestol and kahweol: Present in coffee’s natural oil, high amounts of these compounds are found in unfiltered coffee. They may be good for the liver and protect against cancer, but a high intake may raise LDL cholesterol
Trigonelline: This alkaloid compound is unstable at high heat and during roasting forms nicotinic acid, also known as niacin (vitamin B3). Trigonelline may also help prevent dental cavities by inhibiting bacterial growth.