If you’re a confirmed coffee drinker, especially if you’re a woman, you will be heartened by the recent finding that drinking coffee may stave off depression. A study of some 50,000 female nurses in the US over a period of ten years suggests that women who drank 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day reduced their risk of depression by 15% compared with those who drank one cup or less. And those who drank four cups or more had a 20% risk reduction.
[box type=”important”]The key player in all of this is caffeine, because decaf just doesn’t have the same effect. So if you’re looking for an excuse to keep up your 4 cup a day habit, this could be it (though the scientists aren’t recommending this just yet).[/box]
Of course, that’s not the only health benefit of drinking coffee. Various scientific research studies have shown that drinking coffee can help relieve asthma and headaches, can protect your teeth from cavities and can alleviate a whole lot of serious illnesses. Being a regular coffee drinker will cut your risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease or cirrhosis of the liver by an astounding 80%.
It can reduce your risk of developing dementia by up to 65%. Other risk reductions include diabetes (60%), gallstones (50%) and heart disease in women (25%). More research is looking at the effects of coffee consumption on risk reduction for skin and other types of cancer in men and women. Coffee mannans may one day soon help people lose weight.
So how does coffee stave off depression and other illnesses? It’s the caffeine. In the case of depression, caffeine block adenosine, which means that in your brain it’s like giving you a shot of dopamine. Simply put, it provides happy juice for your brain. With some of the other diseases and conditions, it’s the antioxidants in coffee that help by fighting free radicals and repairing cells that have sustained damage. And in the case of type 2 diabetes, magnesium, chromium and other minerals in coffee help with the metabolism of insulin.
So does this give us the green light to consume as much coffee as we want? Unfortunately not. In both the US and the UK, the recommended daily allowance of caffeine starts at 200mg – that’s what the health authorities consider a healthy coffee consumption rate. And, since many people don’t drink black coffee, you also have to think about the effects on your body of milk and sugar.
[box type=”note”]And here’s some food for thought. If you don’t want to get your caffeine fix from coffee, consider a 50g bar of milk chocolate, but you’ll need four of them to equal the caffeine in one cup of coffee![/box]
Sharon Hurley Hall loves drinking coffee. She writes for Eden Springs, who are the UK’s leading supplier of office water coolers, who also offer office coffee machine rental deals (edensprings.co.uk.)