Among the most popular drinks in the world, coffee has long been criticized for its harmful effects on sleep, stress, or the digestive system. But ‘kawa’, as it is often nicknamed, is also beneficial for your health, provided you do not exceed a certain daily dose. Here are three benefits that will allow fans of the famous hot drink to feel free from guilt.
No less than 255 kilos of coffee are consumed every second on a global scale, or nearly 10 million tonnes per year, according to data published by Planetoscope. The image of the essential hot drink has long suffered from its impact on health, often linked to excessive consumption, but recent studies are helping to rehabilitate it. While it is not a question of ignoring the harmful effects of coffee, it is also important not to demonize one of the most popular drinks in Europe, and more widely in the world. Which (also) contains sometimes unsuspected benefits.
A protective role for the heart?
The negative effects of coffee on heart rate and blood pressure are commonly accepted, but does this mean that the drink is necessarily bad for the heart? This is the question that two studies presented in 2022 at the 71st annual scientific session of the American College of Cardiology attempted to answer. Conducted among 382,535 people without known heart disease and 34,279 people with some form of cardiovascular disease, respectively, this research showed that moderate coffee consumption – two to three cups per day – was associated with a lower risk of heart disease and a longer lifespan. The researchers also clarified that coffee was not linked to the onset or worsening of heart disease, and that it could even have a protective effect for the heart. Conclusions which supported previous work on the subject.
“Because coffee can increase the heart rate, some people worry that drinking it may trigger or worsen certain heart problems. (…) But our data suggests that daily coffee consumption should not be discouraged, but rather included as part of a healthy diet for people with or without heart disease. We found that coffee consumption either had a neutral effect, meaning it did no harm, or was associated with benefits for heart health“, explained Professor Peter M. Kistler, the main author of the studies. The scientists clarified, however, that it was not a question of encouraging people to increase their coffee consumption, but of reassuring fans of the drink .
To lose weight
Scientists from the Department of Physiology at the University of Granada in Spain looked at the effects of caffeine on the oxidation or burning of fat during physical exercise. Their research is based on the follow-up of 15 men aged 32 on average, who participated in an exercise test on four occasions at intervals of seven days; some having ingested the equivalent of strong coffee, others a placebo, at 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. during these tests. Published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, their work reveals that consuming strong coffee thirty minutes before exercising increases fat burning, which would make it easier to lose weight.
“The results of our study showed that ingesting caffeine thirty minutes before performing an aerobic exercise test increased maximum fat oxidation during exercise regardless of the time of day.“, explains Francisco José Amaro-Gahete, one of the authors of the study, in a press release. And it is specified that the effects of caffeine would be reinforced if the physical effort is carried out in the afternoon, rather than in the morning.
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The importance of the coffee break
What if drinking coffee also made you more efficient? A study recently showed that it could boost brain activity and even improve cognitive performance. The only downside is that caffeine is not directly at the origin of this phenomenon; it is the coffee break, sometimes considered a waste of time, which was associated at the end of this work with “maximum cognitive performance” – just like listening to music. Published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, this research more specifically revealed that the coffee break acted as “a notable stimulant” for certain tasks requiring concentration and memory.
Note that numerous studies have also reported the harmful effects of caffeine on health, which must be taken into consideration, and that the hot drink remains more widely at the center of numerous scientific debates. Beyond its excessive consumption, its impact on the health of children or during pregnancy is regularly the subject of scientific publications.