A number of studies -- many recapped by my Inc. colleague Geoffrey James -- show the benefits of coffee. Coffee can reduce your risk of cancer up to 20 percent, your risk of type 2 diabetes by 30 percent, and your risk of Parkinson's disease by 30 percent.
Science even says that the caffeine in your first cup of coffee attaches to the part of your neurons that normally attract adenosine, the hormone that makes you sleepy, and causes your endocrine system to release glutamate, a neurotransmitter that increases your ability to learn and remember. So, yeah: Coffee kick-starts your day.
All of which might make coffee sound like a superfood.
Especially when you factor in the effect caffeine can have on weight gain and cholesterol production.
Recent research from the University of Illinois indicates that caffeine seems to slow weight gain from an obesogenic (likely to make you gain weight) diet by reducing the storage of lipids in fat cells and the production of triglycerides.
For four weeks, researchers fed different groups of rats the same diet, one that contained 40 percent fat, 45 carbohydrates, and 15 percent protein; think an anti-Mediterranean diet.
Some rats also ingested the equivalent of four cups of coffee per day from a variety of sources.
After four weeks, caffeine-consuming rats gained 16 percent less weight and added 22 percent less body fat than caffeine-abstinent rats.
To determine why that happened, the researchers did what researchers tend to do and dug deeper, exposing adipose (fat) cells from mice to various forms of caffeine.
The result? Caffeine decreased the accumulation of lipids in adipose cells by 20 to 40 percent.
They then tracked the expression of several genes associated with lipid metabolism and obesity. The result was lower production of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, as well as triglycerides in the liver.
Or in simpler terms:
The consumption of caffeine from mate or from other sources alleviated the negative impact of a high-fat, high-sucrose diet on body composition due to the modulation of certain lipogenic enzymes in both adipose tissue and the liver...
... (and) brought about lower synthesis and accumulation of triglycerides in the adipose tissue.
I know what you're thinking: Conventional wisdom says drinking four cups of coffee per day is three cups too many.
But while caffeine tolerance differs from person to person, multiple studies show that drinking three to five cups of coffee a day poses no health risks for the average person, and six to eight cups provides the greatest benefits.
And if you're trying to maintain or lose weight, the researchers say:
Considering the findings ... caffeine can be considered anti-obesity agents. The results of this research could be scaled to humans to understand the role of caffeine as potential strategies to prevent overweight and obesity, as well as the subsequent metabolic disorders associated with these conditions.
And you can lose a little fat as well.
Sounds like a series of win-wins to me.