If you’re a coffee drinker, you might just think that your beverage of choice tastes great and gives you a nice pick-me-up after a good night’s sleep.
But research indicates that drinking coffee on a regular basis might actually help extend your life.
Two studies show that coffee consumption could provide benefits you might not have previously considered possible.
What the Science Says
In one study, researchers found that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death than those who don’t drink the beverage. The authors of the study conducted a survey involving more than 500,000 people in countries throughout Europe.1
According to the results, there is an inverse relationship between drinking coffee and suffering from problems such as circulatory and digestive illnesses, cancer, suicide and liver disease. Even though people in different countries prepare and drink coffee differently, the relationship between the beverage and a lower risk of death due to certain health issues remained consistent.
Coffee Drinker’s Advantage
Coffee drinkers, according to the European study, tend to have a higher level of healthy fats, show better control of glucose levels, and have less inflammation. Certain compounds in coffee, the researchers said, have properties that can reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease, heart disease and other illnesses. However, further studies will be needed in order to determine which specific compounds provide specific benefits.
It appears that the benefits of drinking coffee go across racial lines. While the European study involved mainly caucasians, another study involved more than 185,000 coffee drinkers who were primarily African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans. The results were very similar to the European study, providing yet more evidence that coffee consumption can lower a person’s risk of death.
According to the results of this study, people who consume two to four cups a day are 18 percent less likely to die prematurely than those who avoid coffee.
While both of the studies involved smokers as well as nonsmokers, one surprising result was that smokers who drink coffee tend to live longer as those who don’t. But researchers are quick to point out that there is absolutely no evidence that drinking coffee can counteract the health effects of smoking.
Yet another study showed that people who drink 3-5 cups of joe each day are about 15 percent less likely to die prematurely than non-drinkers. This study had even more good news – according to the results, people who prefer decaffeinated coffee can also enjoy substantial health benefits.
Drinking coffee has been associated with other health benefits as well, such as reducing the risk of developing tinnitus, a condition characterized by buzzing or ringing in the ears.²
Coffee might also help improve workouts, increase your safety behind the wheel and lower your risk of developing depression.3
How Much is Too Much?
Of course, it can be pretty easy for a coffee drinker to go overboard with his or her favorite beverage – if you love coffee, you might even be more inclined to overdo it after learning the potential benefits. Over-consumption of coffee can make it hard to sleep and leave you feeling jittery all day long. It can also increase your risk of suffering from heartburn.
Taking most things in moderation is usually the best way to stay healthy. Drinking coffee is no exception. According to one study, about 200 mg of caffeine (about two cups of coffee) is the best amount for helping your cognitive functioning.4 However, not all coffee is created equal, of course. A 16-ounce cup could contain anywhere from 250-500 mg of caffeine. Before you buy anything in the Starbucks drive-thru, find out just how much you’ll be ingesting.
The Bottom Line
While these studies don’t necessarily prove that if you start drinking coffee you’ll live longer, the research does indicate there’s an association. There are a lot of nutrients in coffee beans but researchers haven’t yet determined exactly how they affect a person’s health.
Nevertheless, it seems that drinking coffee on a regular basis not only does no harm, it can actually provide substantial health benefits. Coffee consumption – as long as it is in moderation – can be a major component of not only a healthy lifestyle, but also a healthy diet. If you’re not a coffee drinker and you’re thinking of starting, talk to your doctor first to make sure it will be safe to do so.