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According to the latest studies, just over half of all adults drink at least one coffee a day, and of those many report feeling like they can’t really function without it. Over the years there have been many reports that coffee may be bad for our hearts and our waistlines, but more recently research is coming to light showing the benefits of regular coffee drinking. With the knowledge of these benefits there is no reason to feel bad about having that extra coffee during the post-lunch-slump. Here are six great reasons to drink up!

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1. Coffee can make your brain function better

Most of us know that caffeine is a brain stimulant, that’s why it sometimes feels like you only click into gear for the day after your morning coffee. Several studies have confirmed that the average dose of caffeine in a cup of coffee is enough to significantly improve cognitive function, particularly by improving wakefulness and alertness. That might not be surprising, but they also found that coffee can significantly improve memory function amongst adults – particularly, when it comes to repetitive tasks. That explains why so many of us can’t get through a work day without it! Researchers have also discovered a link between coffee consumption and the slowing of age related memory and cognitive decline.

Harness this benefit with: A strong espresso. Steer clear of sugars and low fat milk as the quick carbohydrate rush will only cause you to crash later, and may negate the brain awakening effect you’re looking for.

2. Coffee can help you burn fat

There is evidence that caffeine helps your body burn fat and can assist with weight control. It’s also been shown that a dose of caffeine before a workout could make you push yourself harder and burn more calories because you’ll feel like you have more energy. Before coffee beans are roasted they’re green in colour, and recently studies have shown that the raw beans have special weight loss properties. One theory behind their effect is that the extract from the green coffee beans inhibits the way your body absorbs carbohydrates, making it harder for you to gain weight.

Harness this benefit with: Several vitamin brands now sell ‘green coffee bean capsules’ which means that even those who don’t like the taste of a strong brew can enjoy the fat burning power of coffee.

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3. Coffee contains essential vitamins

Every cup of coffee contains small doses of Vitamin B5, B1, B2, B3, potassium, calcium and magnesium. The B vitamins frequently found in coffee not only improve mood and energy levels but help your body to better absorb the other vitamins and minerals in your diet. They are also essential for healthy cell reproduction, meaning that they can help some ailments like rheumatoid arthritis. Calcium and magnesium are both essential for healthy bones, and the protein and minerals found in the milk you have with your coffee can help your body  to absorb these benefits. The dosage of vitamins might seem small, but keep in mind that a lot of people have two or three coffees a day and they quickly add up.

Harness this benefit with: A long black made from freshly ground beans with a dash of full cream milk, because the minerals in the milk can help you absorb some of these vitamins.

4. Coffee may protect you from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Liver Disease and Diabetes

Caffeine has been shown to have “protective” qualities when it comes to several degenerative diseases. Scientists have linked daily coffee consumption with a significantly reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, liver diseases, diabetes and even Multiple Sclerosis. However, as caffeine appears to be the factor in keeping these diseases at bay decaf coffee drinkers will not be reaping the benefits. Also, keep in mind that many of these studies only compared those who drank four or more coffees a day against those who drank none so that the results refer to a higher level of caffeine than most of us are used to. The science behind these findings is still debated but it’s a nice reason to not feel so bad about having an extra coffee!

Harness this benefit with: Two cups of strong black plunger coffee a day, these benefits come from the caffeine within coffee so if you’re hoping to reap these benefits you’ll need to drink at least two cups of high-caffeine coffee a day. Weight gain is a risk factor for several of these diseases so you’ll want to be taking your coffee its lowest calorie form.

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5. Coffee can improve your mood

Research has found that those who drink two or more coffees a day are around ten per cent less likely to suffer from depression. Depression is a serious and challenging mental illness so, of course, no one would suggest that it can be cured with a simple cup of coffee. However, this might be interesting news to the many people who don’t suffer from depression but do experience depressed periods. The studies show that coffee and caffeine can act as an extremely beneficial, and easy to access, mood booster when you’re feeling down.

Harness this benefit with: A take-away coffee from your favourite cafe, however you like it. It might sound silly but psychologists recommend creating daily routines that are small but pleasurable as one of the steps patients should take to fight depression. So taking a moment out of your day to enjoy coffee just the way you like it and walking to your favourite spot to buy it isn’t a cure, but it can be a much needed pick-me-up during tough times.

6. Coffee is the largest source of antioxidants in most western diet

The mood boosting effect of coffee is one benefit that doesn’t necessarily come from the caffeine, scientists think it might come from the antioxidants in coffee beans.  A study from the University of Scranton found that Americans get more antioxidants from their daily coffee than they do from anything else in their diets. The same is probably true for those in all western countries! Antioxidants have been found to reduce the risk of cancer and a number of serious diseases. Other antioxidant packed foods include bananas and nuts.

Harness this benefit with: Cold-press coffee. Making sure the beans are not burned or old and stale is the best way to really get all the antioxidants you can in your daily cuppa.

All Images found on Pinterest.

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