Cut back on your morning cup of coffee? No way. That extra-tall, super-dry latte with skim is one of the best additions you could make to your diet. The sugar, heavy cream, and French vanilla syrup added to your cup? Not so much. And though the coffee industry doesn’t need our help growing, we can’t deny these four reasons for drinking a good cup of joe every morning.
People who drink four or more cups of coffee every day are 50 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those who pass on the beverage. While you might start shaking at the thought of four cups, the amount of caffeine is only about 100 mg more than in one bottle of 5-hour Energy. And while most caffeinated drinks are a cleverly hidden charge of sugar, coffee actually improves your sensitivity to insulin, a major factor in preventing diabetes and weight gain. In fact, the researchers behind a 2009 meta-analysis of studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine calculated that each cup of coffee drunk per day decreases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 7 percent.
Coffee is filled with caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, both of which are powerful antioxidants that help fight off stress to your body’s cells. But this isn’t just a little boost: coffee beans contain more antioxidants than almost every fruit and vegetable. The result: Coffee drinkers are 9 percent less likely to suffer from basal cell carcinomona, the most common type of skin cancer, say Boston researchers. But don’t be shy about your coffee habits; the benefits were seen with people who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day.
What’s more, a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, & Prevention found that women who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 30 percent lower risk of cancer. Again, this is due to the antioxidant properties, but coffee also appears to improve enzymes in your liver that help prevent cancer cells from growing and multiplying.
Next time you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, walk your way straight to the coffee machine. That’s because coffee triggers the release of dopamine—also known as the feel-good neurotransmitter. When you drink your first cup of French roast, it’s not just the smell that brings you to life. Dopamine provides the same type of euphoric and pleasurable feelings that are associated with amphetamines and ecstasy…but without any of the dangerous side effects. It also triggers the reward center in your brain and releases another chemical (serotonin) that helps fight depression and keeps you smiling.
Boosts Strength and Endurance
Want to know the most popular (and legal) supplement used by Olympians? It’s caffeine. A recent study of elite athletes found that nearly 75 percent of them take caffeine prior to competition. And the boost clearly isn’t psychological. Studies on runners and cyclists have repeatedly found that coffee before a training session improves endurance and fights fatigue. But a recent study in England also determined that a pre-workout coffee cocktail can help just as much in the gym. When study participants had a caffeinated drink before a workout—compared to a sugar-filled beverage—they were able to perform more reps, experienced less fatigue, and felt ready to return to the gym sooner.
Could coffee really increase your desire to workout? Well, not really. But Australian researchers did discover that drinking coffee after your workout, when combined with eating carbohydrates, helps restore your glycogen, which is your primary source of fuel in your body. Meaning that a little bit of coffee before can help you push harder, and a little after can allow you to recover quicker.