Coffee has been both praised and mocked for centuries. It has been blamed to cause impotence and madness, other times a cure for laziness or “gift from heaven”. But what are the actual, scientifically proven pros and cons of coffee we know today? Caffeine, the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world, is the best known ingredient of coffee. Its beneficial effects on the human body has been researched quite well, but coffee as a whole is a complex beverage with a thousand different substances. Some studies argue that decaf and caffeinated coffee may have the same health effects and suggest that it’s not the caffeine that is responsible for most of coffee's health benefits. 12 HEALTH BENEFITS OF COFFEE 1. Coffee boosts your physical performance. Have a cup of black coffee about an hour before workout and your performance can improve by 11-12%. Caffeine increases adrenaline levels in your blood. Adrenaline is your body’s “fight or flight” hormone which helps you to prepare for physical exertion. 2. Coffee may help you lose weight. Coffee contains magnesium and potassium, which helps the human body use insulin, regulating blood sugar levels and reducing your craving for sugary treats and snacks. 3. Coffee helps you burn fat. Caffeine helps fat cells break down body fat and use it as fuel for training. 4. Coffee helps you focus and stay alert. Moderate caffeine intake, 1-6 cups a day, helps you focus and improves your mental alertness. 5. Coffee lowers risk of death. Studies have shown that coffee drinker’s overall risk of premature death is 25% lower than of those who don’t drink coffee. 6. Coffee reduces risk of cancers. One study has shown that coffee may decrease the risk of developing prostate cancer in men by 20 %, and endometrial cancer in women by 25 %. People in the test group drank four cups of coffee a day. Caffeine may also prevent developing of basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer 7. Coffee reduces risk of stroke. Reasonable consumption of coffee (2–4 cups a day) is associated with lower risk of stroke. 8. Coffee reduces risk of Parkinson’s disease. Studies have shown that regular coffee drinking decreases risk of Parkinson’s disease by 25 %. There’s evidence that coffee causes activity in the part of the brain affected by Parkinson’s. 9. Coffee protects your body. Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants, that work as little warriors fighting and protecting against free radicals within your body. 10. Coffee may lower risk of Type II diabetes. Caffeine decreases your insulin sensitivity and impairs glucose tolerance, therefore reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes. 11. Coffee protects your brain. High caffeine levels in your blood reduce the risk of Alzheimer disease. It also lowers risk of dementia. 12. Coffee brightens your mood, helps fight depression and lowers risk of suicide. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and boosts production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, which elevate your mood. Two cups of coffee a day prevents risk of suicide by 50 %. 6 DISADVANTAGES AND RISKS OF COFFEE DRINKING 1. Bad coffee can be toxic. Bad quality coffee can have a lot of impurities in it, which can cause sickness, headache or a general bad feeling. This can happen if your coffee is made from beans that have been over ripped or otherwise ruined. Even one ruined bean can make your cup toxic. If you invest and buy high quality, speciality coffee you don’t have to worry about this. 2. Coffee can kill you. Yes, if you drink 80-100 cups (23 litres) in a short session. This dose is lethal and will amount in 10-13 grams of caffeine within your body. Before you reach this point, however, you'll be vomiting most of it out since 23 litres of any liquid is a lot. Even drinking 23 litres of water can kill you. 3. Coffee can cause insomnia and restlessness. Again, it's the caffeine working here. Your recommended maximum amount of caffeine is 400 milligrams, roughly the amount that you’ll get from 4 cups of coffee. If you’re caffeinesensitive, be careful with coffee. You are probably already aware what amount and what kind of coffee suits, or doesn't suit you. The amount of caffeine that is safe for human consumption is actually written in our DNA. 4. Don’t drink more than one cup a day if you’re pregnant. Studies on coffee's effect on a foetus have been controversial, but one thing is sure: if you drink coffee when pregnant, caffeine will also reach the fetus, and your baby is highly sensitive to caffeine. So, if you’re a heavyweight coffee drinker and can’t stop drinking it while pregnant, at least reduce your coffee intake to one cup a day. 5. If you have high cholesterol please choose filtered coffee. Coffee beans contain cafestol and kahweol, two ingredients that appear to raise LDL cholesterol levels. Filtering the coffee traps most of the LDL, but cafestol and kahweol are found in espresso, turkish coffee, french press and scandinavian style “cooked coffee”. (The intake of LDL from a cup of espresso is still so small, that for people with normal cholesterol levels, won't be at risk. There are also some studies at preliminary stages of diagnosis that have found marks that cafestol and kahweol may have some beneficial anticancer effects, and be good for your liver.) 6. Coffee for kids, may increase bedwetting. One survey reported that caffeine consumption of 5-7 year old kids may increase enuresis a.k.a. bedwetting. SO, IS IT GOOD OR BAD FOR YOU? If you have high cholesterol or you are caffeine sensitive, pregnant or a child (or a parent of one), you should pay attention to coffee drinking. For others, reasonable amounts (1-6 cups a day) coffee can be good for you. It can prevent serious diseases, boost your mind and muscles, and even help you with weight loss. Remember, as long as you drink toxin free, speciality coffee and brew it with care, you can and should be enjoying it knowing it's good for you.