"The composer J.S. Bach spoke for a lot of us with his Coffee Cantata lyric: "Without my morning coffee, I'm just like a dried-up piece of roast goat."
Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day, or 146 billion cups each year. Turns out that it's good for more than jump-starting our mornings or keeping us awake during meetings; a lot of recent research suggests that coffee offers a host of potential health benefits.
This incredibly complex beverage contains more than 1,000 compounds that can affect the body. The most commonly studied are caffeine (a nervous-system stimulant that's known to have positive cognitive effects) and polyphenols (antioxidants that can help slow or prevent cell damage).
What does coffee offer?
Though researchers don't always know exactly which of coffee's ingredients are responsible for producing their studies' health-boosting results, there's evidence that drinking coffee may help do the following:
Protect against Type 2 diabetes. A 2014 study by Harvard researchers published in the journal Diabetologica tracked nearly 124,000 people for 16–20 years. Those who increased their coffee intake by more than a cup a day over a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes; those who decreased their intake by one cup per day had a 17 percent higher risk of developing the disease.
Control Parkinson's disease symptoms. A number of studies have suggested that consuming caffeine can reduce your risk of developing Parkinson's disease — and research published in 2012 in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology showed that a daily dose of caffeine equivalent to that found in two eight-ounce cups of black coffee can help to control the involuntary movements of people who already have the disease. (You'd have to drink nearly eight cups of brewed black tea to get the same amount of caffeine.)
Slow the progress of dementia. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, Florida researchers tested the blood levels of caffeine in older adults with mild cognitive impairments, which can be a precursor to severe dementia, including Alzheimer's disease. When they re-evaluated the subjects two to four years later, those whose blood levels contained caffeine amounts equivalent to about three cups of coffee were far less likely to have progressed to full-blown dementia than those who had consumed little or no caffeine.
Safeguard the liver. Several studies published in respected journals have found that coffee drinking has beneficial effects on the liver, including reducing the risk of death from liver cirrhosis, decreasing harmful liver enzyme levels and limiting liver scarring in people who have hepatitis C.
Promote heart health. In 2013, the journal Epidemiology and Prevention published a review of studies analyzing the correlation between coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease. Data from 36 different studies showed that people who drink three to five cups of coffee per day had a lower risk of heart disease than those who drink no coffee or more than five cups per day. While the reason isn't clear, one possibility is that coffee helps to improve blood vessels' control over blood flow and blood pressure.
Reduce melanoma risk. A recent study appearing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looked at the coffee-drinking habits of more than 447,000 people over 10 years. The researchers found that those who drank four or more cups of caffeinated coffee each day had a 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than people who drank decaffeinated coffee or no coffee."
Source: Rush University Medical Center