Pour yourself another cup: Health benefits of drinking coffee
Drinking coffee is no longer just about boosting your energy. Researchers continue to uncover ways that coffee improves mental health, affects physical health and offers disease protection.
Whether you drink coffee regularly or are thinking of starting, the benefits outweigh the risks. Here’s what you need to know:
New research about coffee and liver disease
A recent study of almost 500,000 people in the United Kingdom shows that drinking any type of coffee can reduce your risk of liver disease. Researchers found that both ground and instant coffee offer liver protection, but ground coffee provides the highest benefit.
When compared to non-coffee drinkers, drinking four cups a day of ground coffee may provide:
- 21% reduced risk of chronic liver disease
- 20% reduced risk of chronic or fatty liver disease
- 49% reduced risk of death from chronic liver disease
Other health benefits of coffee
Coffee offers many health benefits, thanks to its complex mixture of compounds and the fact that it’s rich in vitamin B3, magnesium and potassium. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, aim to drink three to five, 8-ounce cups (400 milligrams) a day to get the most from your coffee. The benefits include:
Better heart health
According to the American Heart Association (AMA) drinking at least one cup of coffee each day may lower your long-term risk of heart failure. Studies show that when compared to people who drink no coffee, consuming caffeinated coffee reduces the risk of heart failure by about 12% per cup. The AMA notes that increasing coffee consumption should not replace long-proven methods of risk reduction, such as stopping smoking, losing weight and exercising.
Decreased risk of some cancers
Drinking coffee is not associated with an overall cancer risk reduction, but it may protect you from certain types of cancer. Studies suggest that consuming coffee daily may lower your risk of:
- Colorectal cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Liver cancer
- Oral cancer
- Prostate cancer
Lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease
As early as 1968, researchers reported the caffeine in coffee may offer protection against Parkinson’s disease (PD), a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. According to the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee, numerous studies report that when compared to non-coffee drinkers, coffee drinkers may decrease the risk of developing PD by about 30% when consuming three cups a day.
Protection against type 2 diabetes
More than 30 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, a disease marked by blood glucose (sugar) levels that are too high. But according to a recent review of 30 studies, you can decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes by drinking coffee (caffeinated or decaffeinated) every day. The review found your risk decreases by 6% for each cup you consume with a maximum benefit of 30% reduced risk if you drink five or more cups a day.
Reduced risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Not all research draws a clear connection between caffeine consumption and the development of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (the most common type of dementia). But most studies suggest that regular consumption of caffeinated coffee over the course of a lifetime decreases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Health concerns associated with coffee
While coffee offers many health benefits, the caffeine it contains can cause health concerns for some people. According to the National Institutes of Health, caffeine may affect your body by:
- Decreasing calcium absorption, which can be offset by adding a tablespoon or two of milk to your coffee
- Increasing your blood pressure, which can lead to a rapid or abnormal heart rhythm
- Serving as a diuretic, causing you to urinate more and dehydrate
- Stimulating your central nervous system, which may leave you restless, anxious, shaky or unable to sleep
- Triggering acid production in your stomach, often leading to increased heartburn, reflux or upset stomach
To understand whether drinking coffee is a good choice for your personal health, reach out to your primary care provider.