I love coffee.
There’s nothing better to jump start the day than a warm, strong cup of quality coffee.
I don’t feel guilty about it… because according to the evidence, coffee is highly beneficial for health.
Many large studies show that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of some serious diseases.
1. Coffee May Lower The Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the past few decades and now afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.
This disease is characterized by elevated blood glucose levels caused by a resistance to the effects of insulin, or an inability to produce insulin.
One massive study with over 400 thousand participants revealed that each daily cup of coffee lowered the risk of type II diabetes by 7% (5).
2. Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.
In America alone, an estimated 5.4 million people had Alzheimer’s in the year 2012, most of them above the age of 65 (6).
3. Coffee May Protect Against Liver Cancer
There is mounting evidence that coffee can have protective effects on the liver, including a drastically reduced risk of liver cancer.
A meta-analysis of 9 studies revealed that drinking 2 cups of coffee per day lowered the risk of liver cancer by 31%. In individuals with a previous history of liver disease, coffee decreased the risk by 44% (11).
4. Coffee Lowers The Risk of Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is another disorder of the liver, caused by chronic liver disease.
It is characterized by replacement of liver tissue with scar tissue, leading to loss of liver function.
5. Coffee Drinkers Are Less Likely to Get Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s Disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, right after Alzheimer’s.
It currently afflicts about 0.3% of people in Western nations and 1% of people over 60 (14).
A large meta-analysis revealed that coffee drinkers were 31% less likely to get Parkinson’s (15).
In this case, the effect was not seen for decaf coffee, indicating that the caffeine itself was causing the lower risk of Parkinson’s (16).
6. Coffee is Not Associated With Increased Heart Disease
Heart disease is the most common cause of death in Western nations, usually as a result of impaired blood flow in the arteries supplying blood to the heart.
It is often claimed that coffee is bad for the heart, but this has never been proven.
This may be affected by the way coffee is prepared. Unfiltered coffee has substances called diterpenes, which may raise blood cholesterol levels.
7. Coffee May Lower The Risk of Stroke
Stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, is caused by a disturbance of blood flow to the brain, either due to a blood clot or bleeding.
In developed nations, stroke is the second most common cause of death, right after heart disease (23).
A massive review of studies with a total of 479,689 participants revealed that coffee consumption was associated with a mild but statistically significant decrease in the risk of stroke (24).
8. Coffee Reduces All-Cause Mortality
We all have to die eventually, that is inevitable.
This effect is especially pronounced in type II diabetics, one study showing that the diabetics who drank the most coffee were 30% less likely to die during the 20 year study period (27).
9. Coffee Can Improve Brain Function and Physical Performance
Coffee isn’t just black liquid, it contains various bioactive chemicals.
The main active ingredient is caffeine, which is the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world.
What caffeine does in the brain, is to block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking Adenosine, caffeine increases the activity of other neurotransmitters like Noradrenaline and Dopamine.
Many studies have tested the effects of caffeine on brain function and the results are clear… caffeine can improve memory, vigilance, reaction time, mood and overall functioning of the brain (28, 29).
10. Coffee is The Largest Source of Antioxidants in The Western Diet
Here is an interesting fact that may explain some of the health benefits.
Take Home Message
I’d like to point out that many of the studies above were so-called observational studies that can not prove anything, only that coffee drinkers were less likely to get these diseases.
But it does seem pretty clear that coffee is, at the very least, not the devil it was made out to be.
Of course, this applies to moderate amounts of coffee. If you drink way too muchthen it may cause harm.
There is also a potential downside. Coffee can be addictive and can cause sleep problems and anxiety issues in people who are caffeine sensitive. Pregnant women and individuals with elevated blood pressure should also be careful with caffeine.
However, if you can tolerate caffeine then there is no reason to feel guilty about enjoying coffee… even multiple cups per day.
Loaded with beneficial bioactive compounds and associated with a lower risk of all sorts of diseases… coffee can truly be considered a “health drink.”