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The Surprising Health Benefits of Coffee

By Joseph Raby

Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Theorized to have been discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder more than 4,000 years ago, it quickly spread across the globe and is only surpassed by water and tea as the world's most popular beverage.

The goat herder noticed that after his goats ate a specific type of seed, the goats hopped around with great energy and alertness. The boy tried eating the seeds himself, but found them too bitter and difficult to ingest. He eventually heated water and sifted the hot water through the seeds (coffee beans are really seeds and not actually a legume), drinking the world's first cup of coffee.

Since that time, coffee has risen in popularity. However, there have been some claims that coffee is unhealthy. While it's not healthy to drink caffeine in excess (more than 5 cups a day may cause some anxiety and other problems), most people don't realize that coffee has a number of antioxidants and other health benefits.

As a matter of fact, a research paper written by a chemistry professor noted that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source. Per the researcher, he stated "nothing else even comes close!"

It's been shown in various scientific studies that drinking a few cups of coffee daily can lead to a longer life and protection from various illnesses. For example, coffee is well known to lower your risk of Type 2 Diabetes, and reduces incidence of Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Coffee is also believed to lower your risk of Parkinson's disease.

Another benefit of coffee is with concentration and focus. Coffee has been shown to enhance short-term memory, help with focus and alertness, and is also a proven mood enhancer, which explains why so many people can’t function before their first cup of coffee in the morning.

However, one of the best benefits of drinking coffee is the increased metabolic rate and the reduction in appetite. That's right, coffee, and specifically the caffeine in coffee, has been demonstrated to help you lose weight using two separate mechanisms. The first is appetite suppression, and the second is significantly increased energy levels and focus.

The study regarding appetite suppression was published in the medical journal Obesity. In it, it’s demonstrated that there is a clear correlation between drinking coffee and reducing the size of the participant’s next meal, as well as overall caloric intake for the entire day.

It would be biased to only discuss the benefits of coffee and caffeine without disclosing some of the risks. Drinking too much caffeine for too long does have some negative effects on the body and mind. Too much caffeine can overstimulate the central nervous system, causing an increased heart rate (tachycardia), as well as agitation. If enough caffeine is ingested, it’s possible to experience muscle spasms and restlessness. This is why it’s best not to drink coffee 4-8 hours before you go to sleep. Excess caffeine was also noted as one of the top three causes of eye twitches in a study done by the National Institute of Health.

However, most of these negative effects only effect very heavy coffee drinkers (more than 7 cups per day). If you stick to 5 cups or less per day, and limit your intake of coffee at night to either decaf or skipping it altogether before bed, then you’ll most likely experience the health, weight loss, and concentration benefits without being exposed to the negatives.

So the next time you're looking for a healthy, low calorie beverage that can give you a boost, help you lose weight, and reduce the risk of diseases that affect many elderly people, look no further than your kitchen.

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