Joseph Bennington-Castro is a Hawaii-based contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He holds a master's degree in science journalism from New York University, and a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Hawaii. His work covers all areas of science, from the quirky mating behaviors of different animals, to the drug and alcohol habits of ancient cultures, to new advances in solar cell technology. On a more personal note, Joseph has had a near-obsession with video games for as long as he can remember, and is probably playing a game at this very moment.
Coffee is one of the world’s most popular beverages for a reason: It not only tastes good and gives you a serious jolt of energy, but it also has plenty of amazing, body-boosting benefits. Which, in all honestly, is a major bonus considering the fact that most people are simply pleased to have something to help them get through their morning meetings.

How it works: Antioxidants fight inflammation, an underlying cause of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and many types of cancer. They also neutralize free radicals, which occur naturally as a part of everyday metabolic functions, but which can cause oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease. In other words, antioxidants help keep us healthy at the micro-level by protecting our cells from damage. Finally, chlorogenic acid, an important antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee, is also thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Malignant melanomas are the most dangerous and potentially life-threatening form of skin cancer and one of the most common cancer types in the United States. Studies have found that there is potentially as much as a 20 percent lower risk when a person drinks a minimum of four cups of coffee daily. The type of coffee matters here, as the study showed that decaffeinated coffee was not as effective. Studies on non-melanoma cancer and coffee have shown that people were 17 percent less likely to develop the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma, if they drank three or more cups of coffee daily.
In 2005, Hu's team reviewed nine studies on coffee and type 2 diabetes. Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk -- a 28% lower risk -- for people who drank 4-6 cups a day. The findings held regardless of sex, weight, or geographic location (U.S. or Europe).
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In 2013, the journal Epidemiology and Prevention published a review of studies analyzing the correlation between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease. Data from 36 different studies showed that people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drink no coffee or more than five cups per day.
So how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much? Two to three eight-ounce cups per day is considered moderate; heavy coffee drinkers consume four cups or more daily. Remember, the amount of caffeine per coffee beverage varies depending upon the preparation and style of beverage. Eight ounces of brewed coffee may contain as little as 80 to as much as 200 mg of caffeine per cup (an “average” cup probably contains about 100 mg).
If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, swap out those artificial vanilla and hazelnut creamers and syrups for a naturally tropical taste by adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. And while coconut oil might not be the “cure-all” it’s made out to be, adding it to your coffee may have a few health benefits, from contributing to weight loss to possibly preventing Alzheimer’s disease. While these health claims are still under investigation, we think it's worth adding it to your coffee for the flavor alone. The creaminess is crazy.
When a group of volunteers received a dose of 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, about as much contained in a single cup of coffee, Austrian researchers found a surge in the volunteers’ brain activity, measured by functional magnetic resonance imagery (fMRI), as they performed a memory task. The researchers noted that the memory skills and reaction times of the caffeinated volunteers were also improved when compared to the control group who received a placebo and showed no increase in brain activity.
You can improve your coffee by adding real cream. This means organic and grass-fed. Cream like this can be purchased at all major health food stores, and will give you the health benefits of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). There is also usually a nice amount of vitamin K2 present in full-fat cream. This is important because adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been linked with lower rates of cancer and heart disease. Full-fat cream has even been linked to more successful weight loss.
Coffee beans have important nutrients like the B-family vitamins, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin, as well as other nutrients like potassium, manganese, and magnesium. Perhaps most importantly, they contain antioxidants and caffeine, which have a wide range of health benefits when consumed in moderation and at right times during the day.
The healthiest way to take your coffee is, of course, black. But if you can’t stand the taste of the bitter grounds on their own, we have a few pieces of good news for you. Firstly, some studies show that probably means you’re not a psychopath — congratulations. But secondly, there are other healthy options out there to add flavor to your beverage — without adding heaps of sugar.
Previous research had suggested as much. For example, a 2017 report in the Annual Review of Nutrition, which analyzed the results of more than 100 coffee and caffeine studies, found coffee was associated with a probable decreased risk of cardiovascular disease—as well as type 2 diabetes and several kinds of cancer. The new paper, published Thursday in PLOS Biology, identifies a specific cellular mechanism by which coffee consumption may improve heart health.
For a long time, research showed drinking coffee was associated with a higher risk of conditions like heart disease. Later, scientists identified a problem with many of the studies: they didn’t control for other behaviors. Coffee drinkers, it turns out, are also more likely to smoke, drink, and be inactive, all behaviors that raise the risk of many chronic diseases.
If you’re working 80 hours a week, getting three hours of sleep a night, and have no energy because you’re living on carb-heavy takeout, drinking coffee non-stop during the day is a problem. It’s not the coffee; it’s the fact that you’re using the coffee as a crutch. Craving a steaming hot cup or two is fine, being totally dependent on coffee to function isn’t.
In 2013, the journal Epidemiology and Prevention published a review of studies analyzing the correlation between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease. Data from 36 different studies showed that people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drink no coffee or more than five cups per day.

Parkinson's is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by tremors (and you've probably heard that Michael J. Fox has it). Scientists are still figuring out what combination of environmental and genetic factors causes some people to develop this disease, but some preliminary research suggests caffeine may have a protective benefit against it. In a 2017 literature review published in the Archives of Medical Science, researchers concluded that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee seem to have lower rates of Parkinson's, but they couldn't pinpoint why.
Coconut milk is the perfect add-in if you’re lactose intolerant, cutting out dairy for dietary purposes (i.e. the Paleo diet), or just want a low-calorie milk substitute. Of course coconut milk adds a light coconut flavor to coffee and lightens up your brew, but it’s also closest in texture to whole milk. You can add vanilla extract to coconut milk to create a homemade, lower calorie creamer. Just be careful and use coconut milk sparingly as it still contains a fair amount of fat. 
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