Gerard Paul, editor of ManyEats.com says that as a daily coffee drinker – okay, thrice-daily – he can’t get enough of that familiar boost he gets from a cup. Yet coffee and it’s principal active ingredient caffeine are so controversial it’s natural to wonder just how healthy they are.
So he decided to do a deep dive into his daily caffeine habit. The following is what he discovered.
What Could Make Coffee Healthy?
Coffee: how on earth could it possibly be healthy for you?
Just like with wine, many of the benefits of caffeine come from the body’s dose-dependent reaction to the chemical. Caffeine is a natural plant defense and insecticide found in various nuts, seeds, and leaves – like today’s hero, the venerable coffee bean.
Like with wine, many of the health benefits of coffee come in the hormetic zone of the drug. Hormesis refers to a dose-dependent response to a chemical or stressor, which causes a positive biological effect. (For example, consider lifting weights.)
Caffeine has some direct effects on the body too. It blocks the effects of the neurotransmitter adenosine, which is behind much of the increased alertness. It also has a stimulant impact on your central nervous system, constricts blood vessels, and is a mild diuretic.
It all adds up: caffeine is, by most accounts, the most popular drug in the world.
Ingredients in Coffee
The ingredient profile of coffee goes beyond simple caffeine. After all, pure caffeine is just a white powder…
However, for the sake of my research into the health effects, I’ll be focusing on the basic ingredient profile. This includes caffeine, various antioxidants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and multiple minerals and vitamins.
This stands without question: coffee contains caffeine.
It’s perhaps the number one ingredient many coffee users (myself included) look for when seeking a coffee fix. Caffeine is at its heart a stimulant – caffeine will increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and make you more alert and less tired.
But caffeine isn’t the only biologically active ingredient in coffee…