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Healthy Perks: Coffee Fixes Everything

Can food change the way you feel–for the better?  Some experts say yes. Even those most-craved items like a delicious cup of great tasting coffee have a place on the mood-boosting eating and drinking plan.

So if you're feeling guilty for downing your morning cup of joe, maybe this will perk you up. In the National Institutes of Health Study of more than 400,000 people, researchers found that the more coffee people drank, the longer they lived. Most studies suggest drinking a moderate amount (3 to 5 cups) of black or almost black coffee per day to capitalize on all of its healthful benefits. Those who drink a moderate amount have been linked to a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, heart and lung disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, and even melanoma. Of course, these benefits are primarily limited to plain coffee, not the grandé-sized, sugar-loaded specialty drinks from some coffeehouses.

Obviously genetics and lifestyle choices including healthy eating and good nutrition are long-established links to good health but it’s good to see our personal favorite—coffee—working its way up the list.

And the health benefits don’t stop there. Drew Ramsey, MD, co-author of The Happiness Diet states that the foundation of good mental health is good wholesome food and lists coffee as one of these power food/drinks. Researchers have speculated that drinking coffee can increase the production of “feel good” hormones such as dopamine. If you feel that your morning coffee soothes your soul, it’s not your imagination, especially for ladies. A 2011 Harvard School of Public Health study found that women who drank at least two cups of coffee regularly had a 15 percent lower risk of depression than those who didn’t drink any coffee and their risk decreased by 20 percent when they downed four or more cups of coffee a day.

As an added bonus drinking as little as two 8-ounce cups of coffee with breakfast may help you eat less the rest of the day. In one study published in Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity, overweight study participants given this amount of coffee consumed 550 fewer calories per day. The study credits caffeine, as well as a compound called chlorogenic acid, both of which may suppress appetite.

After nearly 20,000 different studies on the subject, the results are still a bit mixed. “Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful,” says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Coffee Studies. It is about time that we start recognizing coffee as a beneficial and perfectly reasonable addition to our healthy and balanced diets.

Good mood, health benefits and potential weight loss – all good reasons to head to the coffee pot for another round…in moderation, of course.