COFFEE IS UP THERE AS ONE OF THE MOST POPULAR DRINKS in the world, with more than 400 billion cups being consumed each year. While it might get a bad rap for over-consumption, it does have a host of health benefi ts. But we’re not talking the type loaded with milk, syrup and sugar. The good stuffis straight-up plain black. It’s packed with antioxidants, which are becoming increasingly important to help your body combat free radicals created by poor diet, medications, toxins and pollution. The other main component of coffee is caffeine, which is a psychoactive substance.
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When you drink coffee, the caffeine enters your bloodstream and then travels to your brain. Once there it stimulates your nervous system, reducing tiredness and increasing energy. At the same time, it also increases adrenaline levels in the blood, putting your body into fi ght or fl ight mode temporarily, and therefore preparing your body for physical exertion. The caffeine then makes fat cells break down body fat, releasing it into the bloodstream as free fatty acids, making them available to be used as energy.
Downing a cup of coffee 30 minutes before exercise can actually boost physical performance by around 11 to 12 per cent. Research also shows that coffee can help prevent type 2 diabetes and reduce the risk of liver disease. In fact, drinking three cups a day could reduce the risk of liver cancer by around 50 per cent. With more than a thousand biologically active compounds in coffee, the black stuffis also known to be good for helping prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Thanks to the B vitamins, magnesium and potassium in coffee, it can increase memory, mood, reaction times and general cognitive function, too. Just be careful if you’re not a good sleeper, as the caffeine can block adenosine, a neurotransmitter that promotes shut-eye. Too much coffee can also keep the body in a state of stress, so try to limit your intake to no more than two to three cups of black coffee a day to ensure you get all the health benefi ts without any of the downsides.
3 WAYS WITH COFFEE
1 COFFEE OAT SMOOTHIE Toss 1 frozen banana, cup chilled black co?? ee, cup milk or non-dairy milk, cup of oats and a spoonful of nut butter into a blender and whizz until smooth.
2 FIG AND COFFEE COMPOTE In a saucepan, combine 600ml brewed black co?? ee, 14 chopped fi gs, 6 tbs raw honey, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, tsp cardamom, tsp cloves, tsp ground nutmeg and 2 tbs orange zest. Bring to boil then simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove fi gs and continue to simmer for 5 minutes. Return fi gs to the pan, allowing to cool. Serve with natural yoghurt.
3 COFFEE-SALTED NUTS Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a tray with baking paper. In a bowl, mix together 2 cups of raw nuts (try almonds and cashews), 2 tbs maple syrup, 2 tsp coarse sea salt and 1 tsp instant espresso powder. Bake for about 10 minutes, turning halfway through. Allow to cool before going nuts.