I don’t know about you, but I know I need a cup (or five) of coffee to get myself going some (most) mornings. I weaned myself off sugar in coffee years ago and usually drink it black or with a little almond milk. So, at least my coffee doesn’t come with a load of calories. Or does it? And can consuming all that caffeine have negative effects? Are there benefits beyond the pick-me-up in the morning? I decided to find out.
The good news is that regular black coffee has very few calories. A typical cup only has about 7! So you’re only consuming a lot of calories when you add cream, sugar, coffee creamer, etc., to your morning cup o’ joe.
Any regular coffee drinker knows that a delicious hot cup of java first thing can help you focus and stay sharp in the morning. Science backs this up; studies show that coffee helps your brain work in a more efficient way, even if you’re sleep-deprived.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. In fact, Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than any other source. A cup or two daily will provide enough, and both regular coffee and its bastardized decaffeinated cousin have nearly the same antioxidant benefits.
Coffee may also help protect against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and liver diseases. It can also promote a healthy heart. Studies have linked regular coffee drinking to lower incidences of these diseases. Coffee seems to both activate proteins in hormones associated with these diseases and protect the liver, especially from the effects of alcohol consumption.
Drinking coffee daily can boost your mood. First, just smelling it percolating in the morning could reduce stress. Coffee aromas have been shown to affect the proteins in the brain tied to stress. Hearty coffee drinkers are also less likely to be depressed.
Coffee is even good for athletic or workout performance! It not only gives the body a boost, it actually increases the number of fatty acids released into the bloodstream, which allows the body to use those fats for fuel and hold reserves of carbohydrates for later in the exercise.
But everything should be in moderation. Most of these benefits are from 1–2 cups per day. Drinking more than that can cause anxiety symptoms and mood disorders. Too much caffeine can also disrupt sleep and raise blood pressure. The acid in coffee can cause heartburn.
Given the risks, if you’re not a coffee drinker, this isn’t necessarily a reason to start. But if you are, the benefits may outweigh the risks, especially if you only drink a cup or two per day and aren’t indulging in too many venti caramel latte-cinos laden with sugar.