Is Coffee Good For You? A New Study Says It Is
New research suggests that drinking coffee regularly promotes bone density, which is important to overall bone health.
“For all those folks who drink lots of coffee and are concerned about the health effects of coffee, this is good news,” said Dr. Chad Deal of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study, in a press release. “It appears to show that coffee is, in general, probably good for bone health.”
Well, that’s certainly a win for coffee drinkers around the world.
But, bones aside, is coffee good for you—or is it a bad habit you need to kick?
Is Coffee Healthy?
Yes. Recent studies have shown that, when consumed in moderation, coffee can be quite healthy.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants, a substance that may protect against free radicals and lower your risk for all sorts of diseases (like cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and Parkinson’s).
In the Western diet, coffee is the greatest source of antioxidants for a lot of people—more than fruits and vegetables combined.
Coffee Health Benefits
Benefits of regular coffee consumption include:
Can help you live longer.
As far as health benefits go, it really doesn’t get better than this. Significant research has found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die early. One 2012 study focused on 402,260 people aged 50–71. In the end, those who drank the most coffee were less likely to have died during the 12–13-year study period
Protects against certain diseases.
The increased longevity associated with coffee consumption makes sense when you consider that the beverage is also associated with decreased disease risk.
Three big ones: cancer, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s.
Liver and colorectal cancer are, respectively, the third and fourth leading causes of cancer death in the U.S. Studies have shown that regular coffee intake decreases your risk of liver cancer by 40 percent, while it decreases your risk of colorectal cancer by 15 percent.
Meanwhile, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are the first and second most common neurodegenerative conditions. Plenty of research shows that caffeinated coffee can help reduce your risk of both by 30-65 percent.
Can help with digestion.
Listen: It’s no secret that drinking coffee stimulates a bowel movement in a lot of people. Whether or not that’s a good thing depends on, well, whether or not you already have issues going to the bathroom.
Related: Why Does Coffee Make You Poop?
Makes some people more productive.
Studies show that an appropriate amount of coffee can have good—even great—effects on your overall brain function. This is because caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This causes other neurotransmitters to increase, which leads to enhanced neuron firing.
According to some research, drinking four or more cups of coffee every day decreases your risk of depression, one of the most common mental disorders, and suicide.
How Much Coffee Is Too Much?
The US Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 400 mg per day. That means the sweet spot is somewhere between three and five 8-ounce cups daily.
Too much coffee can have unpleasant, even lethal, side effects.
Excessive caffeine consumption— which can increase blood pressure and sympathetic nervous activity—can trigger heart attacks, some research warns.
According to the Mayo Clinic, experiencing these symptoms could mean you need to cut back on your caffeine intake:
- Migraine headache
- Frequent urination or inability to control urination
- Stomach upset
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
Some people, especially those at higher risk for heart disease, should talk to their doctors about eliminating coffee from their diets altogether.
Other people who should look closely at their caffeine intakes are: pregnant and breastfeeding women, anxiety sufferers, insomnia sufferers, and people on certain medications.
Does It Matter What Type of Coffee You’re Drinking?
Yes. The best coffee for your health is an organic light roast.
Organic vs. Non-Organic
During the growing process, coffee beans are often sprayed with synthetic pesticides and other chemicals.
While there is some controversy surrounding the use of these pesticides (some people say they’re dangerous, others say they’re harmless in small amounts), the best way to avoid them altogether is to purchase organic coffee.
Light vs. Dark Roast
A 2017 Korean study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food analyzed coffees of different roasting levels.
The researchers found that, while they both have plenty of antioxidants, light roast coffee has more than dark roast.
These results make sense: Darker roasts are exposed to air for longer during the roasting process, and oxidation depletes the antioxidant molecules present in the coffee.
What About Cream and Sugar—Do They Cancel Out the Benefits?
Well, researchers are divided on that one.
While cream and sugar definitely add calories, one 2015 study found that sweetened, creamy coffee had the same health benefits as black coffee.
Here’s the thing: That study started in the ‘90s, when “cream and sugar” meant about a tablespoon of cream and a teaspoon of sugar.
Today’s coffee beverages, like dessert-flavored lattes and frappuccinos, are absolutely packed with calories and sugar.
When you consider the change in coffee trends, it’s easy to see how the cons might outweigh the pros.
How to Make the Healthiest Coffee at Home
- Buy organic and light roast coffee. Lightly roasted, organic coffee has more antioxidants and less pesticides than other types.
- Try to drink it black. Cut back on calories and sugar with black coffee.
- If you can’t stand the taste, use a natural sweetener like Stevia and organic or plant-based milk—but don’t overdo it. Avoid artificial creamers and sweeteners.
- Don’t drink too much. Too much coffee can lead to unpleasant, and sometimes dangerous, side effects.
- Stop drinking it in the early afternoon. Consuming coffee late in the day can interfere with sleep. To prevent insomnia, switch to a non-caffeinated herbal tea by 2 or 3 p.m.