Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages in the world, behind tea, of course, which ranks second after water. Now, much is said about the problems that drinking excess coffee could generate, but what are the properties of coffee for health?
That is the topic that we want to address today because coffee is not only comforting and stimulating: it is also a drink that provides different benefits to our body. Do we discover them?
Health benefits of coffee
Throughout history, opinions about the benefits of coffee consumption have been quite controversial, mainly due to its caffeine content. However, at present, different studies have indicated that there are positive effects that can be taken advantage of with moderate consumption.
Provides vitamin C
The contribution of vitamin C from coffee may differ between varieties but, in general, it is a component that is present in more than interesting doses. Let us remember that human beings cannot synthesize it by ourselves and, therefore, we must acquire it through food.
Vitamin C is necessary to carry out different processes, such as collagen synthesis, protein metabolism, immune function (increasing defenses and preventing colds, flu and sore throats, for example) and absorption of iron. In addition, it acts as an antioxidant, preventing oxidative damage caused by free radicals, and allows the regeneration of other antioxidants in the body, such as alpha-tocopherol.
It would prevent the development of diabetes
A study published in the scientific journal Planta Médica indicated that moderate consumption of coffee would help prevent the development of class II diabetes mellitus. Although it is not known exactly how it works, it is believed that it regulates blood sugar by reducing insulin sensitivity, of course if it is drunk without sugar. Further investigation is needed to determine this property.
Undoubtedly, this is the most widespread benefit and why many of us drink coffee: to get an extra dose of energy.
Its stimulating effect is due to caffeine, a substance that acts on the brain by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine. Thus, it in turn increases the substances (dopamine and norepinephrine) that are responsible for accelerating brain activity.
Would improve memory
In 2016, researchers conducted a clinical trial in young adults and found that drinking coffee improved memory and mood during the time of day when they were most depleted of energy. The same thing happened with their reaction times and cognitive response in general.
Would protect the liver
Scientists have associated moderate coffee consumption with an improvement in certain liver enzymes. The same study found that participants with pre-existing liver disease who drank 2 or more cups per day had a lower risk of fibrosis and cirrhosis as well as reduced mortality.
Would help lose weight
Currently, coffee is promoted as a good ally of diets to lose weight, but is there any truth to this? It is believed that caffeine would act on the metabolism, accelerating it and, therefore, helping to burn fat.
There are studies indicating a moderate loss of fat compared to the consumption of 4 or more cups of coffee per day. It would be a question of evaluating whether this benefit outweighs the possible risks of a high intake.
The origin of coffee
This drink is made with the roasted and ground beans of the fruits of the coffee tree, the coffee plant that is native to Africa, specifically Ethiopia.
Although the history is not well documented, it is believed that its origin dates back hundreds of years to the province of Kaffa, in the heart of the Horn of Africa.
The stories that pass from mouth to mouth say that the discovery was in the hands of a goat herder who, amazed by the behavior of the goats after having chewed the fruit of the coffee tree, decided to consume it himself.
Beyond this legend, it is proven that the slaves who arrived in Yemen and Arabia habitually consumed these fruits and, in fact, in those lands coffee was already grown back in the fifteenth century, and it was served in establishments near Mecca. However, as these places became centers of political activity, they were closed down, although, in one way or another, they always resurfaced and coffee consumption continued.
In the 16th century, the Dutch took coffee beans with them and began growing them in greenhouses. The expansion of coffee in Europe had begun… and also in Asia, since they began to cultivate it in India and, later, they took it to Indonesia. Thus, over time, these colonies would become the first exporters of coffee to Europe at the hands of Venetian merchants.
Coffee arrived in Europe more or less at the same time that the consumption of hot chocolate, brought from America, and tea began to become popular.
A curiosity? The first establishment that served coffee in all of Europe is, to this day, still open and it was the Caffè Florian, located in the famous St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Little by little, coffee consumption began to spread throughout the planet, reaching North America around the year 1668 and becoming popular, mainly in New York.
In the eighteenth century, it was already possible to find coffee crops in America and, from then on, it is easy to imagine the story. Its strong and bitter taste conquered the palate of many people and sweeter, smoother and creamier options were also born: all the ones we know today!
Returning to the main topic to finish, drinking coffee can be good for our health, as long as we do it in a moderate and conscious way. Like any other food, excess could have negative repercussions for health. In this particular case, insomnia or problems falling asleep, increased blood pressure and other discomforts associated with caffeine consumption.
As always, if in doubt about how much coffee you should drink, consult a medical specialist of your choice.