Did you miss National Coffee Day, which was yesterday?
Bummer! I could have scored a free cup of coffee at Dunkin' Donuts, Krispy Kreme, McDonald's, Peet's and other places.
But I still love coffee and am more than willing to pay for it. Aside from its taste, I love it even more for its health benefits, due to its disease-fighting antioxidants (which become even more potent after roasting).
Here are 10 reasons to drink coffee:
- It can lower the risk of depression. Women who regularly drink coffee (fully caffeinated, not decaf) have a 20 percent lower risk of depression, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. Women's likelihood of depression decreases with each additional cup of coffee, the study found, the amount being up to as many as six cups a day.
- It can lower the risk of suicide.
- It may protect against Parkinson's disease in men.
- It may lower the risk for type 2 diabetes.
- It may be protective against some cancers, including endometrial, liver, estrogen-negative breast cancer, some prostate cancers and a common form of skin cancer.
- It's associated with a reduced risk or delayed onset of Alzheimer's disease.
- It may lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- It's linked to a reduced risk of gallstones.
- It can stop some migraine attacks.
- It can increase athletic performance and endurance.
So, there you have it. Even though you have to wait a whole year until National Coffee Day rolls around again, you might be doing your body a favor by downing some. But beware of the add-ons: they can turn a zero-calorie beverage into a calorie-laden drink. For example, a drizzle of Starbucks caramel syrup adds 25 calories to your cup; a tablespoon of cream, 50 calories; one tablespoon of whipped cream, 90 calories.
But just because some coffee is good doesn't make a lot of coffee better. Depending on your individual makeup, coffee can cause rapid heartbeat, palpitations, irritability, nervousness and sleeplessness.
Some people feel gastrointestinal upset or reflux from drinking coffee. People with hypertension who have a hard time controlling their blood pressure should try switching to decaffeinated coffee to see if it has a beneficial effect, experts say.
If you have high cholesterol levels, you are better off brewing coffee with a paper filter, which leaves behind the oily fraction of coffee, called cafestol, which stimulates LDL levels.
And pregnant women are advised to keep their coffee consumption low—to about one cup a day—because the developing fetus is very sensitive to caffeine and metabolizes it very slowly.