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10 Unexpected Health Benefits of Coffee
Many people can’t get through the day without their morning cup of coffee. Over the years many claims have been made about coffee – it’s been touted as everything from a hangover cure to a weight loss aid.
I decided to investigate the facts about coffee’s health benefits. Like any other substance, consuming too much coffee is not healthy. That said, coffee is a powerful herb with medicinal properties. In fact, as a nurse, I have recommended drinking a cup of coffee as an emergency aid for the relief of breathing problems.
Let’s take a look at some of coffee’s medicinal uses, including some interesting research about possible disease prevention.
1. Coffee Can Aid Weight Loss
Some people do lose weight when they drink coffee. Coffee contains caffeine and other stimulating compounds, so it speeds up your metabolism and can help you to lose weight. My sister used to fill up on coffee, so she did not eat as much. She did maintain a healthy weight, but she was anxious and had an upset stomach frequently.
That said, some people may notice they gain weight drinking coffee – especially if the ritual of having a cup of coffee means eating a donut simultaneously.
Green coffee beans and their extract are useful as weight loss aids. I do not believe that they are the “miracle” many advertisers promote them to be, but green coffee extracts can be helpful adjuncts to a well-balanced diet and exercise program for weight loss.
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2. Coffee Can Help an Asthma Attack
Emergency health care providers sometimes recommend that people who are suffering from respiratory distress drink a cup of hot, black coffee if medications and emergency medical personnel are not available.
Coffee contains compounds that are bronchodilators, which means they open up constricted air passages. While coffee should not be used for this purpose except in an emergency, asthmatics and people with COPD may want to consider having a cup of coffee if medical assistance is not readily available.
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3. Coffee Can Relieve Headaches
Caffeine, like that in coffee, is often an ingredient in over-the-counter headache medications, and coffee can help to relieve headaches caused by lack of sleep and migraines. However, it is likely to worsen a tension headache.
If you are a regular consumer of coffee and don’t have your usual morning cup, you may experience a headache from not drinking it.
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4. Coffee Promotes Healthy Bowel Function
I know a lot of people who say they cannot have a morning bowel movement without their cup of coffee. The herb is effective for many people for this purpose.
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5. Coffee May Improve Brain Function
Several research studies have been conducted recently that indicate coffee consumption may enhance brain health. A 2013 study found whole coffee fruit concentrate powder increases the body’s levels of a protein that enhances learning and memory.
Coffee can also prevent dementia and other age-related changes in mental function, enhancing memory, alertness, and attention, according to a 2014 study. However, the impact that coffee has upon the occurrence and progression of Alzheimer’s disease is confusing. Inflammation plays a role its development and coffee increases inflammation, so that is not healthy. But it also reduces the formation of the characteristic harmful plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Further research is needed.
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6. Coffee May Improve Heart Health
If you drink a cup of coffee, your blood pressure will likely rise temporarily, however, a 2012 study indicates that coffee may lower blood pressure when consumed on a regular basis. Several studies indicate that coffee drinking increases unhealthy cholesterol levels, but it appears that this is not so when coffee is brewed using paper filters.
Before you decide to drink coffee for the health of your blood vessels and heart, know that some people are more prone to have an abnormal heartbeat when they consume coffee. Coffee also promotes inflammation, which contributes to the formation of many cardiovascular and other illnesses.
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7. Coffee May Help to Prevent Strokes
Several researchers have concluded that antioxidants and other compounds in coffee may reduce the risk of strokes. A large 2008 study of male smokers by Finnish researchers determined that participants who consumed large amounts of coffee on a daily basis experienced fewer strokes than men who drank less or no coffee.
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8. Coffee May Reduce Your Risk of Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes
Many studies indicate that regular consumption of coffee reduces the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is characterized by an accumulation of abdominal fat, impaired glucose tolerance, unhealthy cholesterol levels and sometimes high blood pressure.
People diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are at risk for cardiovascular disease and/or type 2 diabetes mellitus. Drinking coffee is associated with improved insulin levels and better utilization of blood sugar by the human body. Some studies indicate that regular ingestion of coffee reduces rates of death due to diabetes.
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9. Coffee May Reduce Cancer Risk
Further research is needed, however drinking coffee may provide some protection against the risk of developing esophageal cancer, according to a 2013 study. Another large study done in 2013 found coffee consumption is associated with less likelihood of aggressive prostate cancer.
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10. Coffee May Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease
Studies conducted in multiple cultures are showing that coffee may have protective effects against Parkinson’s disease. While some investigators initially believed that the caffeine in coffee provided the protective benefits, researchers now believe that other compounds in coffee may be involved.
In 2011 a study was conducted among people who had been diagnosed with the disease. The patients who consumed the most coffee had the lowest levels of disease progression.
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There are also a few myths about drinking coffee, the most popular being that it will help an intoxicated person sober up. This is not one of the health benefits of coffee, despite its common application. The only result will be a sleepless drunk person.
In fact, if a person is very intoxicated, having them drink anything could be dangerous – they may swallow it the wrong way, and it will end up in their lungs. Don’t give coffee to a person who is intoxicated.
Another thing coffee won’t help with is thirst. Coffee is known to be a diuretic, which can make you feel thirstier. If you’re parched, have a glass of water instead.
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