Some days (most days?) coffee is the glue that holds it all together. It turns you from zombie to human in the morning, picks you up mid-afternoon and keeps you moving all those hours in between. But — deep breath — is it good for you?
You can exhale. Coffee, it turns out, packs some surprising health benefits. “There aren’t a lot of downsides to drinking moderate amounts of coffee — and in fact, it can have positive effects on your health,” says registered dietitian Andrea Dunn, RD.
You probably didn’t need another reason to pour yourself a fresh cup. But just in case, keep reading.
Caffeine and health
Coffee gets its kick from caffeine, a natural stimulant that makes you feel more energetic. But the caffeine in coffee doesn’t just wake you up. It acts on the brain to improve memory, mood, reaction times and mental function. Caffeine can even improve endurance and performance during exercise, per one study.
Caffeine isn’t the only thing coffee has going for it. “Coffee contains about a thousand different botanical compounds,” Dunn says. Scientists haven’t studied all of them well, but the news so far gets two thumbs up.
Coffee comes from beans, after all. And as Dunn points out, “dietitians love beans.” Coffee is a source of nutrients, including B vitamins, potassium and riboflavin. The beans are also rich in antioxidants, compounds that protect cells against damage. “Surprisingly, coffee is the single best source of antioxidants in the American diet,” Dunn says.
This article takes an in-depth look at the top evidence-based benefits of coffee.
1. Improve overall health.
An analysis of nearly 220 studies on coffee, published in the BMJ in 2017, found that coffee drinkers may enjoy more overall health benefits than people who don’t drink coffee.
The analysis found that during the study period, coffee drinkers were 17% less likely to die early from any cause, 19% less likely to die of heart disease and 18% less likely to develop cancer than those who don’t drink coffee.
2. Boosts energy levels
Coffee contains caffeine, a central nervous system stimulant that is known for its ability to fight fatigue and increase energy levels.
This is because caffeine blocks the receptors of a neurotransmitter called adenosine, and this increases levels of other neurotransmitters in your brain that regulate your energy levels, including dopamine.
One small study found that consuming caffeine increased time to exhaustion during a cycling exercise by 12% and significantly reduced subjective levels of fatigue in participants .
Another study had similar findings, reporting that consuming caffeine before and during a round of golf improved performance, increased subjective energy levels, and reduced feelings of fatigue.
3. Coffee may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes
A 2018 meta-analysis of 30 previously published studies concluded that coffee consumption is inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that chance of developing the disease decreased by 6% for each cup per day increase in coffee consumption. Scientists say the possible reasons for the link include coffee’s antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects, ability to boost calorie burning, and impact on the content and diversity of health-protective gut microbes.
4. Coffee is tied to lower rates of other diseases
Studies show that coffee consumption may protect against certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, endometrial, and prostate cancers, as well as heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. Lifelong coffee/caffeine consumption is also associated with prevention of cognitive decline, and a reduced stroke risk.
In terms of brain health, caffeinated coffee ups alertness and may also improve memory for up to 24 hours after consumption.
5. Coffee may give your workout a boost
Several studies have shown that in moderation, caffeine enhances athletic performance. The effects include improved circulation, increases in muscular strength, endurance, and power, plus reduced pain. That may help you push just a little bit harder during workouts, resulting in better improvements in muscle strength and/or endurance.
A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that muscle carbohydrate stores are replenished more rapidly when athletes consume both carbs and caffeine following exhaustive exercise. Compared to carbohydrates alone, the combo resulted in a 66% increase in muscle glycogen (the storage form of carbs) four hours after intense exercise. This surge in energy reserves ups your ability to exercise harder and/or longer the next time you’re ready to get your heart rate up.
4. Could support brain health
Although studies have turned up mixed results, some research suggests that coffee may help protect against certain neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
According to one review of 13 studies, people who regularly consumed caffeine had a significantly lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. What’s more, caffeine consumption also slowed the progression of Parkinson’s disease over time.
Another review of 11 observational studies in more than 29,000 people also found that the more coffee people consumed, the lower their risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Additionally, several studies have demonstrated that moderate coffee consumption could be associated with a lower risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
5. May promote weight management
According to some research, coffee could alter fat storage and support gut health, both of which may be beneficial for weight management .
For example, one review of 12 studies concluded that higher coffee consumption could be associated with decreased body fat, especially in men .
In another study, increased coffee intake was linked to decreased body fat in women .
Furthermore, one study found that people who drank one to two cups of coffee per day were 17% more likely to meet recommended physical activity levels, compared with those who drank less than one cup per day .
Higher levels of physical activity could help promote weight management.
6. The Biggest Source of Antioxidants
Coffee is a HUGE source of antioxidants & a powerhouse of nutrients. Antioxidants are substances that prevent or delay cell damage, and controls your aging by fighting free radicals.
Translation… Coffee makes you beautiful and healthy!
So the next time you look at your coffee, mind you it’s not just black water, it’s a delectable source of antioxidants and nutrients. Studies show that many people get much more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables together. Caffeinated and decaffeinated versions provided nearly the same levels of antioxidants & actually coffee may be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
7. Coffee curbs depression
Multiple studies have linked consumption of coffee to lower rates of depression in both men and women. In several studies, the data showed an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and depression. Simply put, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the lowest risk (up to 20 %) of depression. Research shows that caffeine activates neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin that regulates mood.
8. Could protect against liver conditions
Interestingly, several studies suggest that coffee could support liver health and protect against disease.
For instance, one study found that drinking more than two cups of coffee per day was linked to lower rates of liver scarring and liver cancer in people with liver disease .
Other research shows that the more coffee people drank, the lower their risk of death from chronic liver disease. Drinking one cup of coffee per day was tied to a 15% lower risk, while drinking four cups per day was linked to a 71% lower risk .
Another recent study found that coffee consumption was associated with decreased liver stiffness, which is a measure healthcare professionals use to assess fibrosis, the formation of scar tissue in the liver .
9. Supports heart health
Some research shows that drinking coffee may benefit heart health.
In fact, one review found that drinking three to five cups of coffee per day was tied to a 15% reduced risk of heart disease.
Another review of 21 studies showed that drinking three to four cups of coffee daily was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke.
What’s more, one study in more than 21,000 people also found that increased coffee intake was associated with a significantly decreased risk of heart failure .
However, keep in mind that caffeine could affect blood pressure levels. Therefore, people with unmanaged blood pressure may need to limit or moderate their caffeine intake.
10.Your DNA will be stronger.
Dark roast coffee decreases breakage in DNA strands, which occur naturally but can lead to cancer or tumors if not repaired by your cells.
11. Your odds of getting colon cancer will go way down.
One in 23 women develop colon cancer. But researchers found that coffee drinkers — decaf or regular — were 26 percent less likely to develop colorectal cancer.
12.You may decrease your risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease.
Almost two-thirds of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease are women. But the caffeine in two cups of coffee may provide significant protection against developing the condition. In fact, researchers found that women age 65 and older who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop dementia in general.
Coffee is a popular beverage that researchers have studied extensively for its many health benefits, including its ability to increase energy levels, promote weight management, enhance athletic performance, and protect against chronic disease.
Keep in mind that some people may need to limit their intake, including people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children and adolescents, and people with certain health conditions
Still, drinking coffee in moderation — about three to four cups per day — has been associated with several health benefits and is generally considered safe for most adults