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.
“Milk, lactose-free or not, will provide essential vitamins and minerals,” Meyer says. “By adding 1/4 cup milk to your morning joe, you'll get 2 grams of protein, 8 percent of the daily value of calcium, and 6 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, riboflavin, and phosphorus... essential for bone health, red blood cell production, and metabolism.” So no matter where you are—or whether or not you’re fully awake—there’s a way to add a little boost to your daily cup.
While they say that the results support moderate coffee drinking as a relatively healthy habit, both Poole and Guallar say the findings don’t go far enough to prompt anyone to change their coffee-drinking habits in the hopes of improving their health. The study did not confirm, for example, that people who do not currently drink coffee should start adding a cup or two a day in order to lower their risk of getting heart disease or any of the other chronic conditions studied. The data also do not support the idea that current coffee drinkers should drink even more coffee to enhance whatever benefits they might be receiving. Too much coffee, the data suggest, starts to bend the benefit curve back down.
One of the benefits of coffee beans is that they contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid (CGA) in addition to other antioxidants. Raw beans contain roughly 9 percent CGA by weight, which can help with weight loss and is a neuroprotectant. Coffee beans also help reduce inflammation, which is associated with a number of health concerns. In addition, the caffeine in coffee beans provides benefits such as reducing headaches. Understanding these health benefits can help coffee-drinkers appreciate more than just the taste of their next cup of java.
For the sake of something real journalists call “integrity” I should point out that coffee has also been shown to have a small, yet positive (which isn’t a good thing in this case) relationship with bladder (25) cancer. However, the same study that reported these finding, also reported that this relationship could also be linked to smoking or other dietary habits.
Looking for a replacement for your diet soda? Try sparkling coffee. The latest interpretation of coffee involves blending cold brew with natural ingredients like Meyer lemon juice and organic cane sugar. The health benefits of flavors like Ginger Hibiscus? They’re marketed as healthier energy drinks, with formulations that contain electrolytes, antioxidants, and less caffeine than straight-up coffee. Companies like Matchless, Upruit, Keepers, and Stumptown make canned versions.
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.
Coffee has also been linked to lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A 2009 study from Finland and Sweden showed that, out of 1,400 people followed for about 20 years, those who reported drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
To support this argument, consider this. A recent in-depth research done in Turkey last year revealed an inverse relationship between consumption of coffee and blood levels of all liver enzymes. Conventionally, increased levels of liver enzymes reflect damage and inflammation to the liver. Simply, the more coffee drank, the lesser their enzyme levels.
Studies show that coffee boasts of more antioxidant activity compared to the two antioxidant superstars; cocoa, and tea. In fact, a wide range of detailed lab analysis carried out over the years has identified over 1,000 antioxidants in coffee beans – unprocessed at that. Interestingly, hundreds of more antioxidants come up on roasting the beans. What’s more, a 2012 research labeled coffee as one of the core dietary antioxidants source readily available today.
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.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption — up to about 500 mg, or about five cups per day — doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.
More recently, Australian researchers looked at 18 studies of nearly 458,000 people. They found a 7% drop in the odds of having type 2 diabetes for every additional cup of coffee drunk daily. There were similar risk reductions for decaf coffee drinkers and tea drinkers. But the researchers cautioned that data from some of the smaller studies they reviewed may be less reliable. So it's possible that they overestimated the strength of the link between heavy coffee drinking and diabetes.
After the researchers induced myocardial infarction in the mice during their experiments, the extra stores of p27 in the caffeinated cells apparently prevented damaged heart muscle cells from dying. The paper says the mitochondrial p27 also triggered the creation of cells armed with strong fibers to withstand mechanical forces, and promoted repairs to the linings of blood vessels and the inner chambers of the heart. To confirm the protein’s importance, the scientists engineered mice with a p27 deficiency. Those mice were found to have impaired mitochondrial function that did not improve with caffeine.
There’s no need to try anything crazy; the only performance enhancer you really need is coffee. Research has shown its ability to give workouts a boost and increase athletic performance, and that’s exactly why you’ll find so many Olympians drinking it: One report from the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism found the majority of the 20,686 Olympic athletes analyzed had caffeine in their urine.