For many people, coffee is a lifeline, the next best thing to oxygen. We say hello to the morning with a cup of joe in hand, use it for a boost throughout the day and welcome the end of dinner with a cappuccino. Indeed even movie star and martial artist Jackie Chan is credited with saying, “Coffee is a language in itself.” And it’s no wonder—caffeine is indeed a drug that happily keeps us in its clutches. It’s got 100% bioavailability, meaning it passes easily beyond the blood-brain barrier for alertness and focus. On the flip side, it leads to nervousness and a jittery feeling when we’ve had too much. When you’re in the habit, it’s hard to stop. And for many of us, that’s just fine, thank you.
Researchers have long gone back and forth about the health benefits of coffee, but new science confirms what some have suspected: Coffee is terrific for the health of your brain, but not necessarily just because of caffeine—even decaf can work minor miracles. Scientists from the University of Toronto showed that once caffeine was removed, other compounds in coffee (polyphenolic acids, flavonoids, tannins, and melanoidans) still mitigated the risks of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It also helps to boost your metabolism, burn fat and improve your exercise performance. Just keep in mind that when you regularly add a lot of cream and sugar, you might be canceling out the health benefits.
Moderate coffee consumption (one to three cups) has also been linked to reduced risks of:
● Type 2 diabetes
● Liver, endometrial, prostate and skin cancers
● Neurologic diseases
● Cardiovascular disease
One reason for this: Coffee is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize dangerous free radicals in the body. Antioxidants not only assist in combating disease, but they also pack a powerful anti-aging punch.
But too much coffee (four cups or more daily) can have adverse effects on overall health and is also a risk to patients already diagnosed with dementia.
Best way to get your joe on? Of course, you can brew it and drink it straight, but why not try a few of these novel preparations?
Make it a little special by topping hot coffee with whipped cream or vegan whipped coconut cream, adding a dash of orange oil.
● Mix a shot of Bailey’s Irish cream (or any other favorite liqueur) into your weekend coffee.
● What about a wake-up smoothie? How does Salted Caramel Mocha sound? Yeah, we thought so.
● Make a coffee butter and slather it on baked goods or use it for cooking meat. Tasting Table has the recipe.
● Oh, did someone say “coffee-glazed bacon”? Why yes, The Worktop
● Make a rub for roast beef out of coffee, vanilla bean, and salt, ala this Food & Wine recipe.
Try a decadent Affogoto Martini recipe from Town & Country, which involves the practically sinful combining of vanilla vodka, cream de cocoa, Kahlua and vanilla ice cream.
Coffee is ripe for all kinds of culinary explorations, whether you’re eating it or drinking it. It’s a great way to brew up a fine, productive day.