If you talk to scientists who study longevity and health, you might be shocked to discover that many of them consider coffee one of the healthiest foods in the world. The combination of antioxidants, natural caffeine, and polyphenols are the perfect cocktail for your health.
Sure, the dressed-up drinks with sugar, cream, and extra calories won’t do your body any favors. But coffee has many shocking health benefits. And it's not just for those who limit their consumption. In fact, many of the benefits are stronger when consumption goes up (some research shows that as much as 4 cups per day can be beneficial).
Before you try to kick your coffee habit, here are several reasons why coffee is healthier than you ever imagined.
More Antioxidants (Than Almost Any Food)
Sure, fruits and vegetables are healthy, but, if you drink coffee, the magic bean is the most powerful antioxidant in your diet. And antioxidants are valuable because they protect against damage that naturally occurs to your cells. This damage (caused by something called oxidation) can lead to illness and breakdown.
Immune Support and Protection
When a collection of scientists get excited about a theory, it's usually a good sign. And that's exactly the case with coffee. As recent as 2018, The American Cancer Society had this to say about coffee:
So what's going on? As with any health benefit, it's not an isolated effect. Coffee has many health properties that make it the perfect cancer-fighter.
Coffee is filled with caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid, both of which help fight off stress to your body’s cells. And this is important because, while we don't know how to prevent cancer, we do know what causes cancer. And many cancers are tied to cellular damage. So anything that fights against cellular stress becomes an investment in your battle against disease like cancer.
That's why several correlational studies have found that coffee drinkers have up to a 30 percent lower risk of getting cancer. Now, we can't say the coffee alone is the cause, but there are elements at work. Part of this is due to the antioxidant value. Part of it is because coffee increases a wide variety of functions in your body that are just good for you.
In fact, there are hundreds of biologically active compounds including caffeine, flavonoids, lignans, and other polyphenols that when combined increase how many calories you burn, regulate genes involved in DNA repair, and fight against inflammation. Not to mention, drinking coffee also might improve insulin resistance and fight against diabetes. And all of these benefits are tied to a lower likelihood of cancer formation.
Better Brain Health
When it comes to your mind, coffee will do more than wake you up. Researchers have also found that caffeine in coffee might improve your short-term memory and reaction times.
People who drank 3 cups of coffee per day performed better on memory tests compared to those who only drank one cup per day, and that consuming coffee can help offset memory decline that happens with aging. All of the benefits are tied to the way that caffeine causes changes to the neurons in your brain that help with alertness and focus, which improves the processing (and storage) of information.
Boosting Strength and Endurance
NBA players have been making use of coffee for years. And, as coffee has become more trendy, the use of natural caffeine as a pre-workout boost has become part of a cult-like culture among professional basketball players.
The problem? The benefit is always in the dose. Taking too much caffeine can cause addiction, tolerance, and inhibit the effectiveness of the powerful (but healthy stimulant). Also, there's a difference between natural caffeine and synthetic versions.
Your job: find the perfect mix between dose, source, and timing. Think natural sources, less than 300 mg, and used about 30 minutes before a workout. (And, if you play sports, you need to make sure the dose is less than 150 mg per serving, or else the product is not NSF Certified for Sport.)
Studies on runners and cyclists have repeatedly found that coffee (or, really, any source of natural caffeine) before a training session improves endurance and fights off fatigue.
When study participants had a caffeinated drink before a workout—compared to a sugar-filled beverage—they were able to perform more reps, experience less fatigue, and they felt ready to return to the gym sooner. (It's why caffeine was a primary ingredient in Ladder Pre-Workout).
Your Guide to Coffee
While the health benefits of coffee are impressive, there is a catch-22. The more caffeine you take, the more likely you are to crash or suffer from stomach disruption. Those problems don’t pose health risks, but they can be undesirable.
Your options: either space out your coffee throughout the day, which helps lessen the likelihood of negative side effects. Or, you could have 1 cup of coffee in the morning and support with other nutrition products, such as Ladder Pre-Workout. That product combines a natural source of caffeine, but also adds other ingredients -- like theanine and citicoline -- that enhance the benefits of caffeine, reduce the downsides (like jitters), while also providing beneficial nutrients to your brain.