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Drinking Coffee Has Its Benefits

August 18, 2015

Fifty-nine percent of Americans drink coffee every day.

For most of us, coffee offers a morning pick-me-up before we start a busy day. But aside from the boost of energy it gives us, drinking coffee also has several health benefits—as long as you consume it in the right way. Research has shown that drinking three to four eight-ounce cups of black coffee a day could lower your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other conditions. If you missed that, it bears repeating—the health benefits come from black coffee, not cappuccinos or lattes filled with sugar, cream, milk and other not-so-good-for-you additives.

Before you race to the store to buy a new coffeemaker, here’s what you need to know about how to get the most health benefit from America’s favorite morning drink.

Drinking Coffee & Your Health

What makes coffee so good for you? Researchers are still trying to pinpoint that. What we do know is that coffee is rich in antioxidants. A study at the University of Scranton showed that coffee was the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S. diet. Antioxidants are important because they help to slow and prevent cell damage that can lead to disease. Other research has shown that coffee also may limit stress.

Coffee may have other benefits for brain health, too. One study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease indicated that drinking coffee may be linked to a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. People in the study who drank less coffee more quickly progressed from mild cognitive impairment to dementia compared to those who drank more of it. Coffee also may help people with Parkinson’s disease control their movements. Coffee’s impact on brain function may not be limited to just Parkinson’s. People who drink at least three cups of coffee a day have a reduced risk of developing dementia or experiencing an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

Drinking coffee also may reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Studies have shown people who drink four to six cups a day lower their risk of type-2 diabetes by 28 percent; three to five cups a day may lower heart disease risk; and at least two cups a day may lower stroke risk compared to people who don’t drink coffee at all. Coffee could even protect you from skin cancer. A study published this year by the National Cancer Institute showed that people who drank four cups of coffee every day had a 20 percent lower risk for melanoma than those who didn’t.

Additional research suggests there may be benefits for your colon, too. A study published just this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found daily coffee may boost colon cancer survival. Researchers saw benefits with those drinking 2-3 cups a day, and at 4 cups the rate of recurrence was almost half compared to those who did not drink coffee. We do not recommend daily coffee just yet for colon cancer patients as there is more researched needed to be done, but the research is promising.

Though this news is encouraging, watching your caffeine intake and eating a balanced, healthy diet is still important. Four hundred milligrams of caffeine a day (or four cups of coffee) is safe for most adults. The average cup of coffee contains just two calories and no fat, so it’s safe for your waistline, as well. To get the most health benefits, skip the sugar and cream and stick to black coffee. Drinking it every day will help you get your morning jolt and possibly reduce your risk of certain health conditions, too.

For more information and health tips, follow Dr. Brambhatt on Twitter and Facebook

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