Do you start your days with 1, 2, or even 3 cups of coffee? If it’s such a routine part of your life, you may have wondered if coffee is good for your health? Well, research shows that coffee consumption does have its health benefits! In fact, according to research drinking coffee lowers the risk of stroke in women, may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, defend against liver disease, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease—just to name a few ways drinking coffee is healthy. Maybe coffee is the next superfood!
Coffee Calories and Nutrient Facts
Is coffee a superfood? Let’s look at the nutrition—but please note, the type of beans and additives used dramatically changes coffee calories and nutritional benefits!
Per 8 ounces of black, freshly brewed coffee:
- Calories: 2.4
- Riboflavin: 0.2 milligrams 11% DV
- Pantothenic acid: 0.6 milligrams 6% DV
- Potassium: 116 milligrams 3% DV
- Manganese: 0.1 milligrams 3% DV
According to a recent study published in the journal Antioxidants, researchers have identified over 1,500 chemicals in coffee, including a wide range of polyphenols such as caffeine, chlorogenic acid, and hydrocinnamic acids. Interestingly, the authors of the study note that participants received the vast majority of polyphenols from beverages, especially coffee—not food. In fact, researchers estimate that only 21% of dietary antioxidants come from foods while 79% come from drinks.
Is Coffee Good for Your Health?
Yes! In fact, in addition to the studies mentioned below, there are thousands more indicating coffee is good for your health. And coffee continues to be actively researched, with over 250 scientific studies in the National Institute of Health’s ClinicalTrials.gov database either recruiting, recently completed, or active.
Michael Roizen, M.D. a wellness expert at the Cleveland Clinic recently weighed in on coffee’s health benefits. Dr. Roizen notes many of the studies we’ve listed below, but he cautions against fancy additives, such as syrups, sugars, and cream, and recommends drinking black coffee.
Coronary Heart Disease
Is coffee good for your heart? Clinical studies do indicate that drinking coffee benefits heart health. Here are some of the research highlights.
A systematic review and meta-analysis covering long-term coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease risk suggests that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is associated with lower heart disease risk. The researchers also noted that “heavy consumption” was not associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from Brazil recently evaluated the association between coffee consumption and cardiovascular risk factors. In their population-based study, they looked into both the risk and potential benefits of coffee and if the polyphenols protect the heart. The study, published in the journal Nutrients,identified that drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day reduces the risk of high blood pressure and a condition called hyperhomocysteinemia. Hyperhomocysteinemia is caused by abnormally high levels of homocysteine in the blood, which may elevate the risk for heart disease, thrombosis, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis, and certain metabolic disorders.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death for women in the United States, behind heart disease, cancer, and chronic lower respiratory diseases. A long-term study of over 34,000 women in Sweden showed that drinking at least 1 cup of coffee a day dramatically lowers the risk of stroke. Published in the peer-reviewed journal Stroke, the studyalso notes that low or no coffee consumption increases the risk of stroke in women.
A recent study published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Disease evaluated the long-term effects of coffee and caffeine drinking on type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes. Over 4,200 participants aged 20 to 70 were followed for a median of 5.8 years, and the results are telling—coffee drinkers had a significantly lower risk of pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes than non-coffee drinkers.
A recent report published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Medicine indicates drinking coffee every day lowers the risk of chronic kidney disease. The community-based study analyzed 8,717 Korean adults with a median age of 52. Just over half of the group were daily coffee drinkers.
In another recent study, caffeine may prevent kidney stone disease according to a report published in the journal Advances in Nutrition. The authors of the study explain that kidney stone disease has a high rate of recurrence , and they note that caffeine, not just coffee, is correlated with a defensive role in the development of kidney stones.
A diverse group of researchers from Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States has authored a recent review of the health benefits of coffee and caffeine. The review identified 112 meta-analyses of observational studies that indicate coffee is associated with a “probable decreased risk” of prostate, endometrial, colon, colorectal, and breast cancer. Here are a few highlights from recent research on coffee and its cancer-protective roles.
One out of every 23 women develops colon cancer in her lifetime. A study looking at coffee, women, and colon cancer risk published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention revealed that drinking regular or decaf coffee lowers the odds of developing colon cancer by 26%.
In a 10-year large-scale investigation of 335,060 women, caffeinated coffee intake lowered the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. The authors of the study note that decaffeinated coffee did not seem to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
In a study published in the Asian Journal of Andrology, researchers hypothesized that the active compounds in coffee lower the risk of lethal prostate cancer. The authors of the study note that caffeine doesn’t seem to be the protective compound, as drinking regular or decaffeinated coffee reduces risk according to long-term studies.
The review above also notes that people who drink coffee have a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. In a just-released study from German researchers, higher coffee and caffeine intake lowers the risk of Parkinson’s disease. Published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, the studywas designed to evaluate the effect of caffeine and coffee on multiple sclerosis and comparable neurodegenerative disorders, including Parkinson’s and ALS. The authors of the study urge further clinical studies to determine how coffee and caffeine may act as protective agents and how coffee could be used as a therapeutic approach to neurodegenerative diseases.
A prospective analysis on 14,208 adults 45 to 64 years old evaluating coffee consumption and liver-related hospitalizations and deaths showed that drinking 1 to 3 cups of coffee a day significantly reduces the risk of liver-related hospitalizations. The recent study from researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The authors of the study concluded that low and moderate levels of coffee may protect the liver.
Additionally, a study published in the journal Gastroenterology revealed that increased coffee consumption reduces the risk of liver cancer and chronic liver disease. The researchers evaluated over 162,000 Americans from Hawaii and California over 18 years. The review focused on multiethnic populations, including native Hawaiians, African Americans, Japanese, Americans, Latinos, and Caucasians.
And the research doesn’t stop there! Scientists from the United Kingdom have identified that caffeinated coffee, and to a lesser extent decaffeinated coffee, reduces the risk of liver cancer even in individuals with pre-existing liver disease. The systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis shows that an extra 2 cups of caffeinated coffee a day reduces the risk of liver cancer by 27%, while an equal amount of decaf coffee reduces the risk by 14%.
In a review of studies on caffeine, coffee, and tea and Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, researchers have found that drinking coffee protects against cognitive decline. Researchers note that drinking 3 to 5 cups of tea a day during midlife also decreases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by 65% later in life.
Is coffee good for your skin? Yes, according to an editorial published in the journal JAMA Dermatology. The authors of the article make a note of a study that suggests drinking coffee reduces the risk of rosacea. In fact, people who drank 4 cups of coffee each day were less likely to develop rosacea than were participants who didn’t drink coffee.
The Perfect Cup of Coffee
Let’s be honest, coffee is a very personal thing. Some of us like it rich and robust with a spoonful of coconut oil or MCT oil added, while others prefer a lighter blend that is sweet and spicy.
A great cup of coffee requires three things: great coffee beans, non-chlorinated water, and proper brewing. If you can find a local coffee roaster in your area, taste test several different types of beans and bean blends to find the one your palate appreciates the most.
Pick the brains of the baristas at your local coffee spot for brewing secrets. You may prefer “pour-over” coffee, French press coffee, espresso, or simple brewed coffee—experiment until you find the one you like, and then get the tools you need to recreate your perfect cup at home.
If you’ve come to love those fancy, calorie, and sugar-laden coffee drinks, you’ve moved away from the health benefits of coffee into an unhealthy practice. Give up the fancy commercial coffees and add ingredients that boost nutrients and health benefits. Healthy coffee additives include:
- Vanilla extract
- Cacao powder
- Coconut oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Nut milk
- Grass-fed dairy
- Maple syrup
Coffee Health Risks and Precautions
Now that we’ve looked at the health benefits of coffee let’s dive into some potential risks and precautions.
How much coffee is safe? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, it is safe for most adults to drink between 3 and 5 cups of coffee a day, not to exceed a maximum intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine.
Drinking 6.5 cups, or more, of coffee a day is linked to an increased risk of gastric cancer according to a study published in the journal Medicine.
If you have any of the following conditions, you may want to avoid caffeinated coffee:
- A family history of glaucoma
- Urinary incontinence
- High blood pressure