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Earlier this year, we shared a chemistry hacks post about tea. All the scientific reasons tea is really good for you! Almost every day readers ask me about coffee too. They want to know is coffee good for your health?
Today, I want to share the scientific truth about coffee.
Perhaps I am a bit biased, but coffee is one of my favorite chemicals to research. In fact, there are some surprising scientific truths about coffee. So, is coffee good for you??
I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was close to 24 years old. My husband and I had just moved back to Texas, and he had just gone through a very serious surgery (read about our story here).
Since I had taken a few years off from college to take care of him, it was a little bit of a shock coming back to school full time. One day I woke up and was craving coffee out of the blue. I started drinking a cup every morning, and have enjoyed it since!
There have been a few times over the years I have stopped drinking coffee and tested out if it effects my rheumatoid arthritis. You can find the results of that below.
But first, let’s do a full chemistry hacks post on coffee for your health.
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Coffee beans come from a coffee plant. Coffee plants are covered in coffee “cherries” that really look like little cherries. Inside the cherry is the coffee bean. It’s really a pretty plant!
The chemistry of a coffee bean comes into play when the coffee bean is roasted. When coffee beans are roasted, a chemical reaction occurs through the Maillard reaction. This reaction is responsible for the brown color of coffee beans.
Maillard reactions occur between an amino acid and a reducing sugar in the presence of heat. This is also the same reaction that causing toast to brown, self-tanning products to brown, and caramel to brown from milk and sugar.
Guess what? It was a chemist who discovered this reaction. It is named after the chemist Louis-Camille Maillard who investigated it in the 1910s.
Chemist come up with the coolest stuff! Check out this other list of fantastic things chemist have invented.
After a coffee bean is roasted, this is where all the chemicals come into play. The Maillard reaction turns a few compounds into hundreds of compounds.
These compounds include many acids like citric acid, acetic acid, and malic acid. It also has aldehydes, pyrazines, and furans. Remember this post about cinnamon? I talk about aldehydes in that too (it’s responsible for scent)!
Healthy Compounds Found in Coffee
The roasting process also creates some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are very powerful. All fresh ground coffee beans will contain all these elements
Vitamin B12, B3, and B5 are present which are very beneficial vitamins for your health. Here is an article about the importance of B vitamins.
Caffeic acid is present in coffee beans. According to this chemical research, caffeic acid has huge anti-inflammatory properties. It is also an active component of propolis in bee hives. Did you read this post I did about raw honey and inflammation? This was a key reason honey helps with inflammation.
Another antioxidant present in roasted beans is Melanoidins. These antioxidants also have great anti-inflammatory properties.
Coffee also contains potassium, manganese, magnesium, and niacin.
Benefits of Coffee for your Health
With all these healthy compounds present in coffee, there are many beneficial reasons to drink coffee.
Lowered Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease
There has been research of this for years now. Caffeine in general can protect your brain and keep it functioning properly. Studies show that consuming coffee can ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s. The National Library of Medicine has some great research on this.
Lowered Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
The chemicals in coffee like caffeine, acids, and magnesium all affect glucose metabolism.
More and more scientific research has linked coffee drinkers with more longevity. I can attest to this one! My Grammy is almost 88 years old. Up until last year, she pretty much drank black coffee all day. She had to stop for blood pressure reasons, but she has been relatively disease free even in her upper 80s. There are many interesting research articles on this subject I have read in scientific journals too.
Studies show that coffee consumption helps with liver functions especially warding off liver cancer.
Caffeine in general has been linked to a decrease in depression. This study shared by Medical News today showed people who suffered from depression actually saw a decrease in symptoms when they increase their coffee intake.
When I studied medicinal chemistry in collage, we learned about how caffeine effected the serotonin and dopamine levels. It can help facilitate the transmission of these neurons.
If you browse the labels on workout foods, especially pre and post workout mixes, many contain high levels of caffeine. The reasons for this is caffeine aides in muscle recovery. Coffee is the best source of natural caffeine, so it can be more beneficial than the mixes you buy with a ton of other chemicals.
This one is especially true. My mom suffers from asthma and a hot cup of coffee in the morning helps her so much. It helps with breathing, wheezing, and opens up the passages.
Be Cautious of Coffee
There are some health issues that can be hindered by coffee. Not everything benefits from coffee like these other tips we’ve mentioned.
If you have high blood pressure, heart issues bothered by caffeine, and anything else that is disturbed by caffeine, then you should stay away from coffee. Always talk with your doctor about consuming coffee if you have issues.
Coffee and Arthritis
This is a BIG ONE! I get asked this all the time on social media because readers know I enjoy coffee in the mornings.
The truth is I don’t drink much coffee. I have a cup in the mornings. If I don’t finish it all, I will turn it into ice coffee later in the day. So, that is about all I consume.
A few years ago, I cut out coffee to test and see how it helped my arthritis. It didn’t help at all, in fact, mornings where even worse for me without coffee.
I brought it back and continue to enjoy it everyday.
Bottom Line with Coffee
The biggest issue with coffee is people drink TOO much and add TOO many chemicals to it. These factors are what can be bad for your health.
Stick with black coffee, maybe some almond milk and cinnamon, and keep it to one or two cups a day. Moderation is the key to almost everything regarding chemicals in your life!