Some surprising health benefits of caffeine

That new coffee bar opened up just around the corner and you have been eager to sample one of their signature blends. But you consistently resist the urge to venture inside. Caffeine is not so healthy for you, right?

Caffeine, the most widely consumed stimulant on the planet, has garnered a bad reputation. Some people fear caffeine and it’s potentially jittery and addictive side effects. However, many medical professionals attest that, when consumed in moderation, caffeine actually can have a number of health benefits. Before you skip that morning cup of Joe or choose an herbal blend instead of black tea, consider the following health benefits of caffeine.

  •  Caffeine boosts brain and central nervous system function. Caffeine mimics the shape of another compound in the body called adenosine, which helps the body calm down and become sleepy. Caffeine can fit in adenosine receptors and cause a jolt of energy rather than sleepiness. Harvard researchers have found that blocking adenosine may slow the buildup of a toxic brain plaque that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, caffeine may help keep dopamine molecules active in the brain and prevent the onset of Parkinson’s disease.
  •  Caffeine can help improve mood. The stimulant effect of caffeine may help boost people’s moods, and thus reduce the propensity for suicidal thoughts. In 2013, Harvard’s School of Public Health found that respondents who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee a day cut their suicide risk by 45 percent.
  • Caffeine may lower risk of stroke. Studies conducted in both the United States and Sweden found that older women who drink more than a cup of caffeinated coffee each day have between a 20 and 25 percent lower risk of stroke. Similar findings were discovered in older men.
  • Caffeine boosts memory. Studies from Johns Hopkins University showed that a 200mg caffeine pill helped boost memory consolidation.
  •  Caffeine offers pain relief. Caffeine is often paired with other pain relievers to bring about faster relief. The Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that when caffeine was combined with other pain relievers, patients required 40 percent less of the other drug to bring the same amount of relief experienced when using just the non-caffeine drug alone. Caffeine on its own can also relieve pain. Consuming caffeine before or after a workout can help reduce muscle soreness.
  • Caffeine may help to prevent cancer. A recent study from Rutgers University pointed out that caffeine prevented skin cancer in hairless mice.
  •  Caffeine could open up air passages. People with asthma may find caffeine can improve their breathing. A study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine determined that caffeine seems to open airways and help asthmatics breathe easier, providing a similar benefit to theophylline, a current asthma medication.

Although caffeine can prove beneficial in various ways, individuals should realize that it remains a potent and potentially addictive stimulant. Caffeine also can aggravate anxiety symptoms and interact with certain medications. People concerned about caffeine should discuss their caffeine consumption with their physicians.

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