(CBSDFW.COM) - Tuesday was National Coffee Day. Here's another reason to celebrate, today is International Coffee Day!
Drinking coffee is linked to a decreased risk of heart failure and stroke. So who's ready for another cup?
Containing almost no calories (if you drink it black) coffee kickstarts many people's morning. But apart from giving someone a jolt of energy, many studies have shown coffee can improve health.
Moderate coffee drinking -- less than five cups per day -- is linked to a decreased risk of death from chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and neurological diseases. The study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found protective effects in both regular and decaf coffee, suggesting that it's not just caffeine that comes with health benefits, but possibly the naturally occurring chemical compounds in the coffee beans.
Another study, this one from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston found that men who drink two to three cups of caffeinated coffee each day have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. Caffeinated tea, soda and sports drinks had a similar effect.
A hot cup of java --make that about three cups of coffee each day -- might stave off Alzheimer's for older adults experiencing memory declines. A small study found coffee consumption helped slow the progression of mild cognitive impairment, a condition that often leads to the disease.
Scientists say the hot stuff may even lower the risk for the most serious type of skin cancer, malignant melanoma. A 2015 study found that frequent coffee drinkers -- those who consumed four cups or more per day -- had a 20% lower risk for developing malignant melanoma. Prior research has also shown coffee may help prevent other types of non-melanoma skin cancers. Decaf did not seem to offer the same protection.
Caffeine can increase blood pressure - but apparently mostly transiently. Long-term studies have found no link between regular coffee consumption and high blood pressure, a.k.a. hypertension.
Coffee beans contain a potent cholesterol-raising compound called cafestol. If you drink instant coffee or coffee that's passed through a paper filter, your brew will contain only a negligible amount of cafestol. But traditional Turkish, Greek, Scandinavian coffee and coffee that's prepared via the French press method can contain high levels of cafestol. Studies have shown that drinking lots of these kinds of coffee can raise cholesterol levels. However, a large body of research suggests that regular consumption of filtered coffee does not increase risk for heart disease or stroke.
And the benefits of drinking coffee also pour into improved mental health.
Preliminary studies have shown that habitual consumption of coffee is linked to lower risk for depression, at least among women.
Heavy coffee consumption during pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage and low birth weight. A developing fetus isn't good at metabolizing caffeine, and research has shown that the stimulant easily crosses the placenta. To limit the risk, doctors often urge women to have no more than one cup of coffee a day during pregnancy (or two cups of tea).
Studies have shown that men who drink lots of coffee have a below-average risk for Parkinson's, a neurological condition marked by tremors and difficulty to coordinate movements. Animal studies suggest that caffeine prevents the death of nerve cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is a core problem in Parkinson's.
In women, the relationship between caffeine intake and Parkinson's may be a bit more complicated. Recent research suggests that caffeine has a beneficial effect on women not using estrogen-replacement therapy, but not in those who do take hormones.
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