Nikki Jong

10 Healthy Reasons to Drink Coffee

Health Reasons for Coffee

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 ten reasons drinking coffee may be healthier for you than you thought.

1. Coffee is a potent source of healthful antioxidants.

In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have cited coffee as a major–and in some cases, the primary–dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.

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.

2. Caffeine provides a short-term memory boost.

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.

How it works:  Caffeine appears to affect the particular areas of the brain responsible for memory and concentration, providing a boost to short-term memory, although it’s not clear how long the effect lasts or how it may vary from person to person.

3. Coffee may help protect against cognitive decline.

In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline, but found no association.

How it works: There are several theories about how coffee may help prevent or protect against cognitive decline. One working theory: caffeine prevents the buildup of beta-amyloid plaque that may contribute to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers also theorize that because coffee drinking may be associated with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for dementia, it also lowers the risk for developing dementia.

4. Coffee is healthy for your heart.

A landmark Dutch study, which analyzed data from more than 37,000 people over a period of 13 years, found that moderate coffee drinkers (who consumed between two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease as compared to heavy or light coffee drinkers, and nondrinkers.

How it works: There is some evidence that coffee may support heart health by protecting against arterial damage caused by inflammation.

5. Coffee may help curb certain cancers.

Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. Researchers have also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.

How it works: Polyphenols, antioxidant phytochemicals found in coffee, have demonstrated anticarcinogenic properties in several studies and are thought to help reduce the inflammation that could be responsible for some tumors.

6. Coffee may lessen your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

A growing body of research suggests an association between coffee drinking and a reduced risk of diabetes. A 2009 study found that the risk of developing diabetes dropped by 7 percent for each daily cup of coffee. Previous epidemiological studies reported that heavy coffee drinkers (those who regularly drink four or more cups daily) had a 50 percent lower risk of developing diabetes than light drinkers or nondrinkers.

How it works: Scientists believe that coffee may be beneficial in keeping diabetes at bay in several ways:  (1) by helping the body use insulin and protecting insulin-producing cells, enabling effective regulation of blood sugar; (2) preventing tissue damage; and (3) and battling inflammation, a known risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  One component of coffee known as caffeic acid has been found to be particularly significant in reducing the toxic accumulation of abnormal protein deposits (amyloid fibrils) found in people with type 2 diabetes. Decaffeinated coffee is thought to be as beneficial, or more so, than regular.

Note: There is some evidence that coffee decreases the sensitivity of muscle cells to the effects of insulin, which might impair the metabolism of sugar and raise blood sugar levels.  The significance of this finding, however, is still unclear.

7. Your liver loves coffee.

It’s true: In addition to lowering the risk of liver cancer, coffee consumption has been linked to a lower incidence of cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis. A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine demonstrated an inverse correlation between increased coffee consumption and a decreased risk of cirrhosis–a 20 percent reduction for each cup consumed (up to four cups).

How it works: Scientists found an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and blood levels of liver enzymes. Elevated levels of liver enzymes typically reflect inflammation and damage to the liver. The more coffee subjects drank, the lower their levels of enzymes.

8. Coffee can enhance exercise performance.

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 5 cups per day–doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.

How it works: Caffeine is a performance and endurance enhancer; not only does it fight fatigue, but it also strengthens muscle contraction, reduces the exerciser’s perception of pain, and increases fatty acids in the blood, which supports endurance.

9. Coffee curbs depression.

Multiple studies have linked coffee drinking to lower rates of depression in both men and women.  In several studies, the data suggested an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and depression: in other words, heavy coffee drinkers seemed to have the lowest risk (up to 20 percent) of depression.

Read: Coffee: Will a cup a day help keep the doctor away?

How it works: Researchers aren’t yet sure how coffee seems to stave off depression, but it is known that caffeine activates neurotransmitters that control mood, including dopamine and serotonin.

10. Coffee guards against gout.

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.

How it works: According to the Nurses’ Health Study, coffee’s antioxidant properties may decrease the risk of gout by decreasing insulin, which in turn lowers uric acid levels (high concentrations of uric acid can cause gout).

The Cons of Coffee Drinking

The potential health benefits of drinking coffee are exciting news, but that doesn’t mean more is better. For some people, coffee can cause irritability, nervousness or anxiety in high doses, and it can also impact sleep quality and cause insomnia. In people with hypertension, coffee consumption does transiently raise their blood pressure–although for no more than several hours–but no correlation has been found between coffee drinking and long-term increases in blood pressure or the incidence of cardiovascular disease in patients with pre-existing hypertension.

Caffeine affects every person differently, so if you experience any negative side effects, consider cutting your coffee consumption accordingly. It takes about six hours for the effects of caffeine to wear off, so limit coffee drinking to early in the day, or switch to decaf, which only contains about 2 to 12 mg of caffeine per eight ounces. Always taper your coffee consumption gradually. Avoid quitting coffee cold turkey; doing so can lead to caffeine withdrawal symptoms that may include severe headache, muscle aches and fatigue which can last for days.

How to Keep It Healthy

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).

Your best bet: Skip the fat-filled, sugar-laden coffeehouse beverages and order a basic black coffee. Alternatively, switch to skim milk or unsweetened soy or nut milk.

Editor’s Note: As much as we all love coffee, it’s important to recognize that even the most rigorous scientific studies are subject to bias–especially ones that examine something as beloved and economically important as coffee–so, by all means, enjoy your morning habit, but interpret these findings with caution.

References

Related Posts:

comments:

  1. KF says:

    Nice article Nikki. I knew one day, about 15 years ago, that the anti-coffee position would be undone. It took awhile, but here it is!

    • gerard says:

      I agree, instinctually a naturally grown ‘bean’ grown high in mountains.. always said ‘health benefits’ to me! Coffee drinker for 25 years can’t go a day without 3-4 cups.. I find it helps me so much with digestion after eating… which is a very healthy thing.

      • Jeff says:

        Well, if you drink coffee after eating, its harder for the body to absorb all the nutrients from the food you ate. Same with Tea. Maybe wait a little bit for your body to digest it and get the maximum benefits of the food nutrients, recommendation per health and Nutrition class study.

      • Ariel says:

        I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Phatty Daddy says:

    You make a great point in closing with taking both the pros and cons with a grain of salt given the popularity of coffee and the industry.

  3. Mike says:

    “Even the most rigorous scientific studies are subject to bias”

    Tthe “most rigorous scientific studies” would be designed properly to avoid bias— that’s why they consult with statisticians.

  4. KARENWARD says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS UPDATE…… MY FIGHT IS WON … I ONLY HAVE 2 CUPS A DAY.. NUTRIEN STATES 8 CUPS OF WATER A DAY NOT COFFEE.

  5. boil says:

    GOD BLESS YOU! these are the best reasons for my last addiction, coffee… i love moderate coffee is heart healthy! and it makes me poop real good too!

  6. Debbie says:

    regarding 3 cups of coffee a day being good for the brain/memory, is that specific to caffinated only, or is it also with decaf? Thanks Debbie.

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Thanks for your comment, Debbie. The Austrian study mentioned in reason #2 suggests that caffeine was responsible for the short-term memory boost seen in the volunteers. The Finnish study mentioned in reason #3 didn’t specify whether the coffee that was consumed was regular or decaf; however, according the authors, “Caffeine seems to be the major component in coffee that could be responsible for the inverse association between coffee consumption and cognitive decline.” In addition, the authors also said it was unlikely that a substantial number of people in the study consumed decaffeinated coffee. The findings of the Finnish study were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

      • Jeff Sutherland says:

        I’ve found it hard to find any decaf in Finland (or most of northern Europe). The Norwegians look at you like you are crazy if you ask for it.

  7. pamelajf says:

    As a coffee aficionado I’m happy to hear of the health benefits. I’ve recently discovered, however, that caffeine elevates eye pressure leading to optic nerve damage in those who may have Glaucoma. I fall into this category & so I plan to cut out coffee. So sad. i wish I understood it a little better.

  8. greengal says:

    As much as I love coffee and am happy to hear about all the health benefits, I’m concerned there is no mention of coffee and fertility. Most fertility specialists advise not to drink coffee.

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Hi greengal,

      Thanks for your comment. The data regarding the impact of caffeine (in all forms, not just coffee) have been inconsistent. Some of the early studies that indicated that caffeine may adversely affect fertility were found to have methodological shortcomings. Later studies have bounced around between two points of view: Some have found no link between decreased fertility and caffeine intake; others have shown a slight correlation between higher levels of caffeine intake (upward to 300 to 500 mg per day) and a modest delay in conception. To be prudent, many experts recommend limiting caffeine consumption to no more than 200 mg per day if you’re trying to conceive. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary widely depending on the source, but the average cup has about 100 mg. If you have specific concerns, you should talk to your health care provider to discuss how much caffeine is safe for you.

  9. Oaktree says:

    Hi, thanks for the great article.

    I was wondering if you would have any comments on this:
    When I drink coffee, it tends to make me very tired.
    Often, within half an hour of drinking a cup of coffee, I feel exhausted and have to take a nap.

    Sometimes, one cup of coffee ruins my whole day, leaving me feeling very tired and muddle-headed.

    Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

    • Carol says:

      Yeah! I get the exact same symptoms as Oaktree mentions when I drink coffee, even just half a cup. Notably, these symptoms do not occur when I drink energy drinks or yerba mate, in amounts that have similar levels of caffeine. Could this be a sign of intolerance or allergy?

    • Ruth Eastwood says:

      Google bullet proof coffee. It maybe the mold causing mytotoxins in your body. I bought the bullet proof coffee and love it. No jitters either!

  10. Maureen says:

    Thanks so much for this very educating article on coffee, Nikki. I knew coffee was good for health, but with your article, I had no idea coffee could prevent these many diseases. Thanks again!

    Kopi Luwak

  11. Pete Smith says:

    Ok That’s all I needed.

    I’m going out to buy a pack of cigarettes and wait.

    Pete Smith

  12. Kyle Charles says:

    I’d say that I would agree with MOST of this article. I definitely have been reading on a lot of the bad rep that coffee and caffeine has been getting by a lot of the online community. I personally think when used in moderation, caffeine can be a great help for daily tasks and every day life. Personally, I’ve had to cut back on my coffee consumption due to acid sensitivity. I like to use energy shots now, such as Eternal Energy shot (at Walmart.) Good article though, I’ve never had any negative side effects from caffeine consumption, but then again I always drank coffee in moderation.

  13. Lois says:

    Good article, and as a coffee drinker, one that I appreciate. I’ve noticed that all of the studies refer to a certain number of ‘cups’ of coffee, and it would be helpful if the authors pointed out that these are 8 ounce cups. Most coffee mugs today are at least 10 ounces, sometimes 12 or more. So, if the optimum amount is four cups per day, then that would be about 2.5 to 3 mugs, depending on the size. Just like with glasses of wine–most wine glasses are larger than those used in studies!

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Excellent point, Lois. We should always keep in mind what an actual serving is — one “cup” of coffee is eight ounces and equivalent to one serving, no matter how large the mug is.

      Thanks for your comment.

  14. Carlos says:

    is coffee more healthy than wine? Obviously, four cups of coffee is better than four cups of wine.

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Hi Carlos,

      Thanks for your question. Both beverages have been studied extensively for their health benefits, but coffee isn’t necessarily “healthier” than wine, no. If you indulge in either–or both–it’s best to do so in moderation.

  15. juni vashistha says:

    is drinking coffee anywhere related to acne..??

    • Hi Juni, this is a really good question. Years ago, early research suggested a link between caffeine (not coffee specifically) and acne. Further research has proven there is no link between the two. If you find that caffeine consumption seems to be associated with your outbreaks of acne, try avoiding caffeine for a 1-2 weeks to see if the outbreaks clear up.

      Malcolm Thaler, MD
      Clinical Editor
      One Medical Group

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Hi Juni,

      If you add sugar or dairy to your coffee, and are experiencing acne, you might also try eliminating both for a short period (also for 1-2 weeks, as Dr. Thaler suggests) to see whether your skin improves. This has been helpful for some people.

  16. juni vashistha says:

    which brand is the best for coffee…and weather v shld go for instant coffee or granulated coffee..??

    • Nikki Jong says:

      Hi Juni,

      Thanks for your question. Generally speaking, the less processed a food or beverage, the better it is for you, but if you’re consuming only a moderate amount of coffee daily, then it probably won’t have a significant impact either way.

      I encourage you to speak with your health care provider if you have further questions regarding coffee and your health!

  17. jennifer marohn says:

    Does instant coffee have the same antioxidant effects as brewed coffee?

  18. Stephen Mohobela says:

    does drinking more than 4 cups of coffee a day have any bad effect.

    • Hi Stephen,

      4 cups a day should be fine in most cases (see examples of the case studies above) but we suggest discussing your specific situation with your primary care provider to look into further about the right amount for you.

  19. Susan Turner says:

    Hi there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but after going through some of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Anyhow, I’m certainly delighted I came across it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly.

  20. Kari-Erik Luoto says:

    Caffeine accumulates in the body as active uric acid waste materials which cause a chronic poisoning, caffeinism. Caffeinism is known to cause mental problems to 10% of general population, and also various physical conditions, but the mechanism is not known by science.

    Now you can read about the mechanism of caffeine in your body, and also how you can make caffeinisim symptoms like depression, panic disorder etc go away in less than 24 hours.

  21. Robert says:

    Are these result from ‘coffee’ consumption or ‘caffeine’ consumption. For example, how would green tea (with caffeine) consumption differ in benefits from coffee consumption?

    • Hey Robert,

      Thanks for your question! This article speaks to the health benefits of drinking coffee only. The information can’t be extrapolated to tea or other sources of caffeine, but tea can offer other health benefits of its own. Some studies state drinking tea regularly may promote healthier teeth, gums, and stronger bones.

      Malcolm Thaler, M.D.
      Clinical Editor
      One Medical Group

  22. Lilly says:

    Thanks for your article but I want to know if coffee Can reduce breast size? Can coffee also cause delay in child bearing (infertility)

    • Hey Lily,

      There was some preliminary research a few years ago by the British Journal of Cancer which suggested that 3 cups of coffee a day or more could reduce breast size, but I have seen no follow-up on this. As for your question about infertility, there has been some work in mice suggesting a connection between coffee and its effect on the fallopian tubes, but I am not aware of any human studies. Obviously more scientific studies need to be performed to confirm any connection between coffee consumption and breast size or infertility. Thanks for your question.

      Malcolm Thaler, M.D.
      Clinical Editor
      One Medical Group

  23. Barton says:

    Does Coffee contains Alcohol? I don’t like taking anything Alcoholic

  24. emmanuel adegunju fowowe says:

    Thank you Nikki for your advised and benefits of drinking coffee. i love to drink coffee but i cannot have one because of my past experience in my youth days. i have found out that excessive drinking of coffee was too bad for me when i learnt at hospital during an illness that a large proportion of coffee was found inside my body after 4-5 months i have stopped drinking coffee in 1982. i was about 17 years old at that time when it happened.
    This is the drinking i love so much was taking away from me and replaced with tea or decaffeinated coffee which i am presently enjoy without posing any risk to my health. i still love taking coffee mixed together with a lot of milk during the morning breakfast but not in the night.

  25. KC says:

    The article is informative to a degree, but neglects to point out the deleterious effect that coffee has on teeth, bones and calcium levels. Dr. Christine Northrup has advised that drinking coffee is like peeing your bones away. Like many substances, I believe it is a matter of moderation. I do think our Starschmuck/Dunkin Go Nutz culture encourages overdoing both the quantity and additives to coffee. A little regular Joe seems a good thing.

  26. Pingback: Coffee 101 | My Kitchen Ventures

  27. YUSUPH IBRAHEEM says:

    I’m about to go into drinking coffee habit before I come accross this article but what give some concern is about the fertility issue, should i go on or step back?

    • Hello Yusuph—Please see Nikki Jong and Malcolm Thaler, MD’s responses in the comment threads about similar questions about infertility and caffeine. We’d also suggest raising the question with your primary doctor about fertility and caffeine consumption.

  28. Razali Zain says:

    Great article! Who knew coffee has so many benefits. This will certainly help me with my study on mineral coffee that adds bamboo salt to the mix! Thanks

  29. CliftonCoffeeChris says:

    Great article Nikki, it looks like the benefits far out way the cons. All we need now is for people to drink good filter coffee instead of sugar filled frappes. We’ve got some great brewing guides if you’re interested in making a decent cuppa at home.

  30. Marisa says:

    Great article! I think the benefits of drinking coffee are surprising and impressive. I’ve been researching for a while and found some of my own startling benefits.

  31. CliftonCoffeeChris says:

    Great article, With so many doom-sayers it’s great to get a positive spin on things, I’ll definatley be passing this round he office where we drink at least 4 a day.

  32. wbiz says:

    1-2 cups of coffee with less sugar is quite ok..and will give the benefits whtever has been found as above. but it is lifestyle that matters most.

  33. jean says:

    Does instant coffee has the same antioxidant content as brewed?

  34. Opeyemi bello says:

    Thank you for this enlightment, i use to think coffee makes one slim and it use for reading. Most times it cause headach

  35. vijay kumar says:

    Is coffee good for our health or not? Please suggest me.

  36. Kona Coffee says:

    Well I agree, multiple studies have shown that coffee can lower the risk of cirrhosis by as much as 80%, the strongest effect for those who drank 4 or more cups per day. To make sure to preserve the health benefits, don’t put sugar or anything nasty in your coffee! If it tends to affect your sleep, then don’t drink it after 2pm.

  37. Albert Balaga says:

    Please kindly advise, how dangerous is caffeine to our bodies?

  38. adeyeye sikiru says:

    ah! i shall join d moderate coffee drinker

  39. Chuchi says:

    Yeheey!!! Luvs Coffeee a lot tnx for this info

  40. The Orchid Boutique says:

    Great article! Despite the fact that I will gladly drink a cup daily, I think the research being done around dementia and alzheimers is fascinating. Definitely something new to keep researching.

  41. Trumpcoaching says:

    Hello

    Thanks for this lovely article it was very helpful for other people to keep himself fit and fine

  42. hendra ciptadi says:

    Coffee is the energy surged . Coffee caffeine beneficial to the body as the brain and nerve stimulant and improve performance and concentration. Then the reaction of the body to feel warm and light / relaxed. But caffeine has added additional scent (essence) will be cafestol. Cafestol is a chemical compound that can increase cholesterol levels in the body. So we have to wisely choose caffeinated coffee good for the body. How to differentiate coffee bean / coffee powder (without essence) conducted oral / mouth without brewed. Take a little coffee entered the mouth, the result still feel the taste of coffee, savory bitterness, not swallowed rough. For smokers smoke so lightly. Conversely coffee bean / coffee powder mixed with artificial scent (essence), the result is very bitter, not feel the taste of coffee, swallowed rough. For smokers do not benefit. The conclusion by knowing the guidelines of natural coffee drink in the stomach will feel safe and secure for blood pressure, do not make trouble sleeping, not addicted, emotionally stable.

  43. vaishali thaker says:

    I have full addiction of coffee and drink 4 cups per day. I like coffee very much………

  44. UCHENNA DAVID says:

    THANKS For your Encouragement towards stress.
    I am Happy to have come in contact to this news of coffee intake
    Thanks to the researcher of coffee Produce, Let there be an enhancement in Knowledge towards proceding Research.
    Thanks and God bless

Add your comments...