You know things are getting rough when most of the coffee shops in town know you by name, let alone your order. Alright, you got me – I’m a self-confessed caffeine addict, hooked on the roasted stuff and practically renting myself out to Nero’s to get my fix. Mocha, Americano, Caramelatte, if it comes in a big white mug with a double shot of espresso I’m game. It was only when a friend lamented the deterioration of my liver (and not for any alcohol I’m partial to) that I came to wonder: exactly what is the science behind coffee and its link to health?
Let me explain the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Coffee: the good news
– Women who regularly consume more than two cups of coffee per day are less likely to suffer from depression. The science boffins aren’t sure why, but two cups reduces the chance of depression by 15%, and those who drink four cups will slash their chances by 20%.
– A brew a day lowers chance of Type II diabetes by 7%. Make this two brews, and that doubles to 14%, and so on.
– Coffee is actually crammed with vitamins, including B1, B2, B3 and B5, which are all active in the process of cell metabolism. In fact, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined!
– Caffeine speeds up your metabolism, helping to burn fat. Beach body, anyone?
– Caffeine actually improves short term memory recall, making it perfect for last minute exam cramming. Studies have shown that coffee drinkers do better in cognitive tests (awareness and memory).
Coffee: the bad news
– Like it or not, research has shown a link between drinking coffee and raised cholesterol, which is itself linked to heart disease and stroke. If you’re prone to a cig with your daily brew, you’ve got twice the reason to check that your cholesterol isn’t sneaking skywards.
– Insomniacs beware, caffeine majorly messes up your sleeping pattern. From difficulty dropping off to waking up in the night, any coffee 8 hours before bed will affect your sleep.
– Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it leaves you dehydrated. However, this can be easily countered by drinking a glass of water with every cup o’ joe.
– Caffeine dependency. Oh yes, “coffee jitters” are no myth – one cup a day is proven to be enough to induce withdrawal symptoms, including nausea, headaches, lethargy and irritability. These symptoms occur within 12 to 24 hours after your last fix, and could last as long as nine days.
So, it’s your place to weigh up the argument. It looks like coffee is just another thing to add to our list of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’. For me? I have a date with a double-strength white chocolate mocha. As they say: “everything in moderation, including moderation.”