Health Benefits of Coffee
There are good reasons to drink coffee and there are a few reasons not to. This article is for those that are looking for reasons to keep drinking it.
After all, you may have a caffeine-hater in your life. You know the type – they’re always telling you what’s bad for your health.
Here’s a list of some good reasons to drink coffee. Memorize this list – so the next time you encounter your favorite coffee-hater you can pull out one of these babies.
While you’re at it, you can add the words “from a peer-reviewed scientific journal” — that’ll really get your pet coffee-hater frothing at the mouth.
In all seriousness, here are some scientific reasons for drinking coffee in moderation.
Top 11 Coffee Health Benefits
- Cut the Pain
Two cups of coffee can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%. From the Journal of Pain, March 2007 (link)
- Increase your fiber intake
A cup of brewed coffee represents a contribution of up to 1.8 grams of fiber of the recommended intake of 20-38 grams. From the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry (link).
- Protection against cirrhosis of the liver
Of course, you could just cut down on the alcohol intake. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (link). Another more recent study also showed coffee’s liver protecting benefits. link. Yet another study showed that both coffee and decaffeinated coffee lowered the liver enzyme levels of coffee drinkers. This study was published in the Hepatology Journal.
- Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Those who consumed 6 or more cups per day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (link). A recent review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup.
- Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease
There is considerable evidence that caffeine may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. From the European Journal of Neurology (link).
- Reduces suicide risk and Depression
A 10-year study of 86,000 female nurses shows a reduced risk of suicide in the coffee drinkers. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (link). Another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drink 4 or more cups of coffee were 20% less likely to suffer from depression. Study link.
- Protection against Parkinson’s
People with Parkinson’s disease are less likely to be smokers and coffee drinkers than their healthy siblings. Just make sure you don’t get lung cancer on the way. From the Archives of Neurology (link). Even newer research out of Sweden revealed that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s even when genetic factors come into play. link.
- Coffee drinkers have less risk of heart disease. Korean researchers found that study participants who consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were less likely to show the beginning signs of heart disease. The study. Other dietary factors should also be noted as Koreans typically have a different diet than do Westerners.
- Coffee drinkers have stronger DNA. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that coffee drinkers have DNA with stronger integrity since the white blood cells of coffee drinkers had far less instance of spontaneous DNA strand breakage. Study abstract.
- Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. Recent research showed that at least 4 cups of coffee a day may help protect against the development and reoccurrence of MS. It is believed that the coffee prevents the neural inflammation that possibly leads to the disease developing. The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
- Coffee reduces colorectal cancer risk. Even moderate consumption of coffee can reduce the odds of developing colorectal cancer by 26%. This protective benefit increases with more consumption. The study is described in detail here.
Even More Reasons to Drink Coffee…
New research concerning coffee and health is being conducted all the time. Here are some more of the latest studies.
- Reduced Liver Cancer Risk: Researchers at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center found that those that consume 1-3 cups of coffee a day have a 29% reduced risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type. Src.
- Less Gout Risk: Yet another reason: Risk for developing gout (in men) decreases with increasing coffee consumption. This is a large study of over 50,000 men (link).
- Longevity: Greek boiled coffee linked to longevity and heart health. –link. Another study published in the June 17, 2008, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that women who consume coffee had a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and other factors, which therefore promotes a longer lifespan. Yet another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that coffee drinkers were at less risk of dying prematurely from diseases like diabetes, heart disease and forms of cancer. Study link. Another study from Japan found that men who drink at least 3 cups of coffee per day have a 24% less risk of dying early from disease. Yet another study from Harvard also confirmed that those who drink 1-5 cups of coffee a day avoid diseases linked to premature death. The study. A Japanese-based study also found similar results when it comes to coffee and longevity. The study. Two more 2017 research studies have confirmed what earlier studies have found. Those that drink coffee live longer than those who don’t. The American study is found here and the European-based study is found here.
- Prevents Retinal Damage. A Cornell University Study showed that coffee may prevent retinal damage due to oxidative stress. Caffeine isn’t the culprit here, but chlorogenic acid (CLA), which is one of the strong antioxidants found in the coffee bean. link
- Black coffee prevents cavities. Researchers out of Brazil found that strong black coffee kills the bacteria on teeth that leads to tooth decay. Adding milk or sugar to coffee negates this benefit. –link
- Coffee may protect against periodontal disease. As part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs Dental Longitudinal Study coffee consumption and dental health among 1,152 men was tracked from 1968-1998. The researchers found that coffee didn’t promote gum disease and actually showed a protective benefit. Link
- Coffee may protect against melanoma. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that melanoma risk decreases with coffee consumption and that this risk decreases with each cup consumed. Study link.
- The USDA’s new 2015 dietary guidelines recommend it for better health. They advise people that having 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is good for their overall health and reduces the risk of disease. However, they report that adding sugar, cream, or flavored creamers quickly negates the potential benefits. The complete report here.(pdf)
- Reduced heart attack mortality risk. Researchers found that those who drink two or more cups of coffee daily after having a heart attack have the least risk of dying from the heart attack. The study.
Coffee’s Health Promoting Antioxidants
- A typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than typical servings of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, and oranges.
- Antioxidants in coffee may dampen inflammation, reducing the risk of disorders related to it, like cardiovascular disease.
- A study from Monash University even further demonstrated the antioxidant capacities of brewed coffee.
Just drink decaf then?
While there are still some health benefits to drinking decaf coffee, most of the above studies showed that caffeinated coffee had the greatest benefits.
This is due to many of the antioxidants being removed during the decaffeination process.
How Safe or Beneficial is Coffee Then?
For most people, coffee can be a healthy part of the diet and there is no reason to not enjoy a couple cups a day unless you can’t control your consumption.
However, coffee may not be beneficial for everyone. Those with certain heart conditions, caffeine sensitivity, and woman who are pregnant should stick to decaf or tea.
Also, those that drink coffee in excess may be negating some of the benefits because of the large amounts of caffeine they are consuming. These people may benefit from a caffeine detox to reset their caffeine tolerance to more moderate levels.
The key is moderation, which is typically 2-3 cups a day, to get the coffee health benefits but avoid the negative issues associated with too much caffeine.