The health benefits of coffee

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Don’t quit just yet! Hydrate, lose calories and improve you memory with coffee

Coffee often gets a bad press, which in some cases is for good reason, especially if you’re drinking lots of it or always using it as a pick-me up in the afternoon. However, there are lots of health benefits in these little beans too, when drunk in moderation and not in a calorie-laden white chocolate mocha with whipped cream on top from Starbucks!

Let’s start with the liver. Researchhas shown that drinking two or more cups a day can help protect your liver against certain diseases, including cirrhosis. Coffee is also packed full of antioxidants and, for big coffee drinkers, is often the biggest source of antioxidants in the diet. Antioxidants are important for many reasons, including helping protect against free radical damage and therefore diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. But that doesn’t mean that coffee can replace the antioxidants from fruit and vegetables!

We all know that the caffeine in coffee can help with energy levels, as it is often found in energy and sports drinks, and, of course, many people use it to help them get through that ‘4pm slump’. However, caffeine can also help improve your memory and mood. When you drink a cup of coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels to the brain. Once in the brain the caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine, which in turn allows an increase in other neurotransmitters that help fire your neurons and increase your alertness and memory. There is also increasing evidence that coffee can help protect against neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and reduce the risk of depression, too.

Coffee also contains some essential nutrients including B vitamins, magnesium and potassium, and isn’t dehydrating on the body as some may think. According to research, coffee is in fact almost as hydrating as plain waterand counts towards your total daily fluid count, plus it’s low in calories when drunk black.

Do be careful with coffee, though, as some people can be really sensitive to it. Even one cup can cause ‘caffeine shakes’ where the body feels a bit jittery and shaky, or cause nausea. It can also cause a slight increase in blood pressure, so if you suffer from high blood pressure then coffee is best avoided.

GET YOUR COFFEE FIX!

CREAMY DAILY COFFEE

Put in a blender 240ml of your favourite coffee, 1tbsp coconut oil, 1tsp.organic unsalted butter (or non-dairy alternative) and ¼tsp vanilla extract. Blend for about 20 seconds and drink immediately for a deliciously creamy coffee with lots of good fats.

COFFEE-FIG COMPOTE

In a medium-sized saucepan, add 300ml brewed coffee, 200g dried figs, 1tbsp honey, ½tsp cinnamon, 2 cardamom pods, 2-3 cloves (to taste) and the zest of 1 orange. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with Greek yoghurt, or chill and use on top of your porridge on a morning.

ESPRESSO BROWNIES

Place 110g chopped walnuts and 110g chopped almonds in a food processor along with 6 pitted Medjool dates and blend until almost dough-like. Add 60g cocoa powder, 1tbsp instant coffee, 1tsp vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt and blend, ensuring it’s all mixed well. Line a loaf tin and pour in the nut and date mixture, pressing down firmly. Refrigerate for at least an hour before slicing into cubes and storing in an airtight container.