I almost always start the day with a cup or two (or three) of coffee. Cream, no sugar. Most of the time, I pour a cup, take a couple of sips, and leave it somewhere while I’m making kids’ breakfasts or packing lunches or trying to persuade my almost 5-year-old son to wear actual clothing to school. By the time I find it again, it’s lukewarm, but I quaff it anyway. Can’t let all that valuable caffeine go to waste now, can I?
According to a new study, coffee can do more than boost our level of alertness. Women who drink caffeinated coffee on a regular basis have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than non-java drinkers, The New York Times reported recently.
Dr. Albert Ascherio, an author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, pointed out that too much caffeine can increase anxiety and insomnia and said that more research is needed before we all consider our Starbucks cards medically necessary.
The study, which was published earlier this week in The Archives of Internal Medicine, took a look at detailed information from 51,000 women about their caffeine intake, depression risk factors, weight, hormone-replacement use, exercise levels, and other health factors. Researchers found that the chance of depression fell with each cup of coffee consumed.
“We know that caffeine enters the brain and activates the release of different neurotransmitters that are related to mood, like dopamine and serotonin,” Dr. Ascherio told the New York Times. “That may explain the shorter-term effects on mood. But the long-term mechanisms of caffeine intake on mood we don’t really know.”
Tea, soda, decaf, and even chocolate didn’t cut it—apparently, they just don’t have enough caffeine to equal the amount found in about four cups of coffee, which is what can help keep depression at bay, researchers say.
In honor of National Coffee Day (September 29), here are some other fun facts about that heavenly elixir so many busy moms can’t live without (hat tip to Livescience.com):
- 65 percent of the people in the United States who drink coffee regularly have about 13 cups of the stuff each week. (Average cup size: 9 ounces.)
- Most people (68 percent) have their first cup within an hour of waking up.
- About 57 percent of coffee drinkers like their java on the sweet side, but 35 percent drink it plain and black.
- Hawaii and Puerto Rico are the only places where coffee grows in North America.
- Seattle has 35 coffee shops for every 100,000 people—the highest per-capita rate in the U.S.
Which do you prefer, coffee or tea (or something else?) Does the link to preventing depression make you think about having an extra cup?