Your daily cup of coffee may be doing more for you than providing that early-morning pick-me-up. The health impact of coffee has long been a controversial topic, with advocates touting its antioxidant activity and brain-boosting ability, and detractors detailing downsides such as insomnia, indigestion and an increased heart rate and blood pressure. But the latest wave of scientific evidence brings a wealth of good news for coffee lovers. Here are 10 reasons drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought.
It’s enough to make a tea drinker buy an espresso machine. In a new study scientists in Germany report they were able to modify a common age-related defect in the hearts of mice with doses of caffeine equivalent to four to five cups of coffee a day for a human. The paper—the latest addition to a growing body of research that supports the health benefits of drinking coffee—describes how the molecular action of caffeine appears to enhance the function of heart cells and protect them from damage.
Whether you want to sip on coffee for its benefits that could potentially help you live longer and speed up your metabolism—or you love it for its ability to help fight off cellulite and help with balding—there are endless reasons to love your morning brew. And if your other favorite beverage is wine, we’ve got 80 more reasons for you to be excited: here are the 80 Amazing Benefits of Wine.
Let's take a quick jog down memory lane about how the research behind the benefits of coffee has changed over the years: In 1991, the World Health Organization classified the beverage as a “possible carcinogen.” Then, in 2016, the organization found that there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” And in between, most of the news about coffee was largely positive: That, instead of being harmful to your health, regular coffee consumption (in moderation, of course), is actually good for you.
Other studies have tried to tease apart which ingredients in coffee contribute to its health benefits. Those might include its antioxidants, which can combat cancer, and anti-inflammatory compounds, which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart conditions and even neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s, as well as the risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis and cancer.
In addition to being pretty terrible for the environment, Immer says Keurig Coffee Makers also pose some potential health dangers. Not only do you expose yourself to plastic that’s been heated, but Keurigs tend to get dirty, fast. “The water tanks in a Keurig can never truly be flushed and cleaned. We are concerned about mold and bacteria growth in these tanks over time, much like commercial ice machines,” Immer says.
Coffee has been known for helping reduce the risk of cancer, and a 2016 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention found drinking it could help cut it by a whopping 50 percent. But how much is needed to reap the benefits? Researchers say one or two cupts for a 26 percent reduced risk or more than 2.5 for a 50 percent-reduced risk.
Increased coffee consumption may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes - the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers gathered data from three studies. In these studies, the diets of the participants were evaluated using questionnaires every 4 years, with participants who reported having type 2 diabetes filling out additional questionnaires. In total, 7,269 study participants had type 2 diabetes.
Already think the benefits of coffee are endless? Well they pretty much are: It can even strengthen your DNA. A small 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found drinking coffee regularly significantly reduced the oxidative damage in the body’s white blood cells, which can hurt your DNA. Instead, the coffee—dark roast, in this case!—helped keep the DNA strong.
If you’ve hurt your liver from years of drinking, coffee could be the superhero you’ve been hoping for. In a 2016 review published in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, researchers found drinking two cups of coffee a day had a 44 percent lower risk of ending up with liver cirrhosis. For more on healthy eating, here are a 20 Amazing Healing Foods.
Brushing isn’t the only way to prevent cavities. While coffee is known to stain the teeth, it’s also been found to protect them: A 2009 study published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry found drinking coffee can help prevent cavities and tooth decay, but there’s a catch—you have to drink it black. Because unfortunately adding in sugar isn’t going to do your smile any good.
A 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found drinking coffee might be able to help you lose weight thanks to caffeine’s ability to increase thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and lipolysis. But more research still needs to be done, so don’t count as your Starbuck runs as a way to drop the pounds. Especially if you’re drinking something that’s not simple, black coffee.
There are various theories on how coffee can help prevent or better yet, protect cognitive decline. But before that here is a quick fact, caffeine in coffee prevents beta-amyloid plaque build-up. The plaque can contribute to the beginning as well as the progression of Alzheimer’s. Besides, researchers theorise that since a regular cup of coffee can keep dietary diabetes away (a dementia risk factor), it can also be said to minimise the danger of developing dementia.
Although this latest news about the potential health benefits of coffee involves just a single animal study, tea drinkers might well feel they are coming out on the wrong end of the coffee equation. According to the National Coffee Association, 64 percent of Americans 18 and over drink at least one cup of coffee a day, with an average daily consumption of 3.2 cups. Three cups of a typical breakfast tea contain less than 150 milligrams of caffeine, compared with the nearly 500 milligrams in the same amount of brewed coffee. So tea drinkers might wonder if they are missing out on a potential health benefit and should start drinking the other stuff.
In fact, according to a 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the human diet—yes, even over wine and tea. Aside from the caffeine giving you an early-morning energy buzz, those high levels of antioxidants can help protect your body from damage caused by free radicals, as well as fight off disease. If you’re a big coffee lover, make sure to check The 15 Best Coffee Makers On The Planet.
Independent studies on the coffee consumption patterns of men and women suggest that drinking coffee regularly reduces the risk of developing gout. Researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study analyzed the health habits of nearly 90,000 female nurses over a period of 26 years and found a positive correlation between long-term coffee consumption and a decreased risk for gout. The benefit was associated with both regular and decaf consumption: women who drank more than four cups of regular coffee daily had a 57 percent decreased risk of gout; gout risk decreased 22 percent in women who drank between one and three cups daily; and one cup of decaf per day was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of gout when compared to the women who didn’t drink coffee at all. Similar findings have been documented for men: another large-scale study, published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism, found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee per day decreased their risk of gout by 40 percent, and that those who consumed six cups or more lowered gout risk by 60 percent.
When you’ve ordered a latte or a cappuccino at Starbucks, you’ve probably watched as the barista wipes down the steamer before whipping up a new cup. This is meant to fight bacteria, but you may be getting something extra in your drink that you probably don’t want. “What you don’t realize is that sanitizing solution ends up in your frothed milk! It’s not a ton, but it is there—a small amount on that wand for every frothed carafe! So avoiding lattes is a good choice if that concerns you,” Immer says. Or just prepare yours at home to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for. This is the healthiest coffee you can drink.
"Caffeine for treatment of Parkinson disease" Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc, Anthony E. Lang, MD, Renato P. Munhoz, MD, Katia Charland, PhD, Amelie Pelletier, PhD, Mariana Moscovich, MD, Luciane Filla, MD, Debora Zanatta, RPh, Silvia Rios Romenets, MD, Robert Altman, MD, Rosa Chuang, MD and Binit Shah, MD. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318263570d August 1, 2012. Abstract. Accessed 15 December 2013.
Need a little boost to get you through your HIIT workout? A 2013 study from PLoS One shows that athletes who consumed coffee an hour before exercise had greater performance than those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Plus, a 2015 study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that people who drink coffee before a workout burn more calories after exercise, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This means that even if your spin class is over, your body will continue to burn more calories. We’ll drink to that! ☕