Should we be drinking more black coffee? The answer may surprise you. Read this week’s Nutrition News for the very latest in nutritional research including whether a herb extract can help with menopause symptoms and whether omega 3 can reverse the effects of a processed diet.

The health benefits of black coffee

Coffee is the morning drink of choice for many people around the world but, aside from giving us a caffeine boost to set us up for the day and seemingly helping our cognitive health, is it actually a habit that’s good for us? This article from Healthline explores some of the potential health benefits of the caffeinated drink.

Most people know that coffee is a source of caffeine but fewer will be aware of its surprisingly varied nutrient profile, which includes riboflavin, niacin, thiamine, potassium and a number of different polyphenols.

In addition, coffee is believed to support cognitive health with its caffeine content, which is thought to offer nootropic benefits. It’s for this reason that researchers are studying coffee for its potential role in slowing down age-related cognitive decline. Coffee is also widely used for energy support, which was supported by a study that found that coffee decreased reaction time and increased alertness compared to a placebo.

While coffee can offer cognitive benefits it is important not to consume too much as excess caffeine can lead to headaches, insomnia, anxiety, and rapid heart rate, amongst other effects.

Ashwagandha for menopause

Ashwagandha is a herb whose properties have been said to support feelings of vitality and stamina, a recent study reported by NutraIngredients has investigated this further and found that it may offer some relief of menopause symptoms.

For the randomised double blind placebo controlled study, 100 women between the ages of 45 and 55 were recruited to take either 600 mg of ashwagandha per day or a placebo for eight weeks. Those in the test group scored significantly lower scores on the menopause rating scale (MRS), a widely used self reporting questionnaire that establishes the severity of perimenopausal symptoms, than those on the placebo.

In particular, it was noted that the number of hot flashes was reduced and the serum estradiol level was restored to normal, suggesting that the food supplement does indeed offer menopause support. While further research is needed to confirm the findings, it is encouraging for menopause research and women’s health.

Can omega 3 reverse the effects of impaired memory from processed foods

There’s increasing evidence that processed and ultra processed food is bad for our health, affecting our cognitive health and memory but a recent study from researchers at Ohio State University has suggested that omega 3 could play a role in reversing these negative effects.

The study, which was reported in Medical New Today, explored the effects of refined carbohydrates, refined carbohydrates being foods such as white rice, white pasta, white bread, sweets, and other processed items, on the brain. It found that these processed diets impaired memory function amongst aged test subjects, but less so in younger subjects, alongside increased signs of inflammation. What is interesting is that omega 3 supplementation appeared to reduce these effects on the brain and offer anti-inflammatory benefits.

The findings are unexpected as processed diets haven’t been evaluated in this way before so the fact that fatty acids and fish oils such as omega 3 could benefit cognitive health in this way and reverse their effects is very promising.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is the Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.