Today is International Coffee Day, and if you are reading this post in the morning, you are probably enjoying a freshly brewed cup right now. According to the National Coffee Association, the percentage of Americans who drink coffee every day is on the rise. This daily indulgence is not only a great pick-me-up from the night’s slumber, but it also improves health, fosters connections with other people and can even help us live longer, all of which contribute to a happier existence. In the Swiss journal Nutrients, one study found that people who drank at least four cups of coffee daily had less of a risk of depression than those who drank less than a single cup per day.
Positive Health Outcomes
Coffee has long been linked to better health outcomes. Scientists at the Simmons Cancer Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, cite studies that suggest coffee drinkers may have extra protection from colon cancer. The National Coffee Association cites numerous studies linking coffee to positive outcomes for liver disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and strokes. A Harvard study published by the journal Circulation in 2015 found that people who drank three to five cups a day had lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and even suicide.
Long Live Coffee
According to a study published by BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal) the magic number of cups consumed per day seems to be three to four, with the exception of pregnant women. In Dan Buettner’s book, The Blue Zones Diet: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, Dan writes Sardinians (Italy), Ikarians (Greece) and Nicoyans (Costa Rica) drink many cups of coffee a day. In fact, many in the Blue Zones restrict their beverage diets to coffee, green tea, red wine and water. These people are among the longest living people in the world, routinely reaching and surpassing 100 years old.
Good Mood Brew
People in Sweden have a word for a cherished coffee break: Fika. Niki Brantmark explains in her book, Lagom: The Swedish Art of Living a Balanced, Happy Life, that fika is all about “taking the time to switch off for a few minutes and giving yourself a breather.” In Sweden, these breaks are more than drinking coffee, it’s a time to relax, reflect and connect with family and friends.
Here in the U.S., a study from the University of Ohio discovered that people worked better in teams when they started their day with a cup of coffee. It seems that the spark we get from caffeinated coffee makes us more alert and more likely to give positive reviews to our fellow team members. Given that the alertness seemed to be the main motivator behind the good feelings and that exercise can provide a similar outcome, drinking coffee offers a less sweaty way to get positive results.
Drink It for the Birds
Where your coffee is grown can affect the health of wildlife and the environment. Shade-grown coffee beans are grown in a way that produces a self-sustaining ecological boomtown, especially for birds. Researchers with the Wildlife Conservatory Fund, Princeton University and the University of Wisconsin were surprised to find that the surveyed areas where shade-grown coffee beans are grown hosted nearly 80 different forest dependent species, including Alexandrine parakeet and the Nilgiri wood pigeon. What’s more, farmers use less pesticides in shade-grown areas, too. Knowing that you are contributing to the greater good adds a bit of meaning with every cup.
Grounds for the Ground
If you want to make a sustainable difference closer to home, adding used coffee grounds in your compost bin can be a safe and cheap substitute for smellier options. It appears the rich amount of nitrogen in coffee can provide the sufficient energy need to break down organic matter into compost. This will do wonders for your garden. If you need large amounts, talk to your local coffee shop about obtaining their discarded coffee grounds.