4 Reasons Coffee Is Good For You

May 28th 2015

Laura Donovan

Over Memorial Day weekend, I had a debilitating migraine that hit me in waves over a two-day period. Having an intense migraine is like carrying a massive rock in your head, and it costs businesses billions of dollars every year in lost productivity. After drinking some coffee, however, the horrible pulsating feeling above my eye disappeared, I became my leisurely, book-reading self again, and the entire day didn't have to go to waste. Caffeine is known for helping ease the pain of migraines, so I wasn't surprised it solved my problem.

Here are some other ways coffee is beneficial to you and your life:

1. It wakes you up.

Although I'm a proud morning person, most people need at least one cup of coffee to feel like a human at the beginning of the day. Last year, YouTube channel AsapScience captured why coffee makes us less tired in this 3-minute video. Adenosine is a molecule that causes sleepiness and happens to be similar in structure to caffeine. Once caffeine enters your bloodstream and brain, it competes with adenosine and helps fight exhaustion:

2. It may lower your risk of heart problems.

Earlier this year, researchers conducted a study in Korea and found that coffee drinkers who consume 3 to 5 cups per day were at a lower risk of having clogged arteries than non-coffee drinkers. The researchers observed more than 25,000 people with no signs of heart disease.

Jared Reis, an epidemiologist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in Maryland, did not work on the study, but said in an interview with LiveScience that he didn't "see any reason why the results wouldn’t be generalizable to other populations."

In 2013, researchers analyzed more than 30 studies that looked at more than 1 million people and concluded moderate coffee drinkers (3-5 cups a day) had the lowest risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Heavier drinkers, those who consume more than five cups daily, were not at a higher risk of CVD than those who drank less coffee.

This pertains to black coffee, that is, coffee without creamer, which can be abundant in calories, sugar, and fat in large doses.

3. It's high in antioxidants.

In 2005, researchers at the University of Scranton found that coffee is the number one antioxidant source in the U.S. The antioxidant levels were similar for caffeinated and decaf drinks.

"Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source," study leader Joe Vinson, Ph.D., said at the time. "Nothing else comes close."

Vinson noted that the potential health benefits, however, are determined by the manner in which the body uses them, so it wouldn't hurt to get your antioxidants from fruit as well.

4. It can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease​

If you're over 65, coffee might help you avoid Alzheimer's, according to researchers from the University of South Florida and the University of Miami. The study observed the memory and thinking processes of people in their sixties and above and reported that those with higher blood caffeine levels were less likely to have Alzheimer's several years later. Coffee was the main or only source of caffeine for the study participants.

Younger coffee drinkers might take advantage of this as well. Lead author Dr. Chuanhai Cao said that "moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood" may help fight Alzheimer's down the road.

"These intriguing results suggest that older adults with mild memory impairment who drink moderate levels of coffee -- about 3 cups a day -- will not convert to Alzheimer's disease -- or at least will experience a substantial delay before converting to Alzheimer's," Dr. Cao told Science Daily. "The results from this study, along with our earlier studies in Alzheimer's mice, are very consistent in indicating that moderate daily caffeine/coffee intake throughout adulthood should appreciably protect against Alzheimer's disease later in life."