Coffee has hit the headlines again.
Researchers from Harvard University found that women who drink four cups of coffee or more a day, are a fifth less likely to become depressed. Women who drink two to three cups, decrease their risks by 15%.
Following the findings that coffee helps reduce stroke risks, it now appears that caffeine plays a significant part in warding off depression.
The study involved 51,000 women whose coffee intake was monitored over a 10-year period. Their tea, chocolate and alcohol consumption was also taken into consideration – but it was coffee that had the strongest influence when it came to reducing depression.
Researchers believe that the main ingredient, caffeine, acts as an antidepressant as it blocks certain chemical receptors, like adenosine, which helps boost energy levels.
“Our results support a possible protective effect on caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression,” says Dr Michel Lucas from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The scientists also pointed out that coffee contains “well known psychostimulant effects” including “increased sensations of well-being and energy.”
The findings, published in the Journal of American Medicine Association, coincide with a Finnish study last year which found that men who also drink four or more cups of coffee a day were less likely to battle the blues.
However, with every discovery comes a warning – drinking too much coffee can raise blood pressure and increase heart rate, plus it’s advised that pregnant women stick to no more than two cups a day.