Over the last several decades, coffee has been among the most heavily studied dietary components. And the news is mostly good. Moderate coffee consumption (three to four cups per day) has been linked with longer lifespan. In fact, a November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8% to 15% reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption). Other studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of
One of the more surprising benefits of coffee has to do with the heart. Although coffee temporarily causes an increase in one's blood pressure, drinking two cups daily can help prevent certain cardiovascular problems, such as heart failure. Caffeine may also help prevent disturbances or irregularities in one's heart rhythm. Additionally, there is also a reduced risk of stroke.
“For example, prior studies have suggested that variants in CYP1A2, (a gene) encoding the enzyme responsible for more than 95 percent of caffeine metabolism, may alter associations of coffee drinking with cardiovascular-related outcomes, with slower caffeine metabolizers having higher risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) or having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) relative to their non-drinking counterparts, whereas faster caffeine metabolizers who drink coffee are at no or lower risk of these outcomes.”
This trick may seem obvious, but you would be shocked to learn just how many popular versions of coffee are loaded with artificial sweeteners and refined sugar. For example, a chai tea latte (found at a popular coffee store that shall not be named) has 15 more grams of sugar than a Snickers bar does! Even less obvious versions of sweetened coffee may be packed with artificial sweeteners or extra sugar. A salted caramel mocha (again, found at an unnamed coffee chain) hits your bloodstream with a whopping 56 grams (!) of sugar.
In addition to the jolt of energy and focus you can get from the caffeine in coffee, the drink has a number of other health benefits. Coffee can lower your risk of liver disease, Type 2 diabetes, dementia, and even some cancers. Multiple studies have shown that drinking multiple cups of coffee per day — yes, even three or four cups is OK — could prevent early death.
Some curious minds wanted to know exactly who was protected. And why? How? These studies showed that in people with Type 2 diabetes coffee intake was correlated with insulin spikes and increased blood sugar after a meal. Further research has shown that the caffeine in coffee might be the culprit responsible for the secretion of higher levels of insulin from the pancreas.
“Milk, lactose-free or not, will provide essential vitamins and minerals,” Meyer says. “By adding 1/4 cup milk to your morning joe, you'll get 2 grams of protein, 8 percent of the daily value of calcium, and 6 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, riboflavin, and phosphorus... essential for bone health, red blood cell production, and metabolism.” So no matter where you are—or whether or not you’re fully awake—there’s a way to add a little boost to your daily cup.
If you want a caffeine boost, but get too jittery or anxious with the two to four shots of espresso typically found in coffee drinks, order a tea latte with one shot of espresso. A typical shot of espresso contains around 64 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of tea can range from 30 to 75 milligrams. Combining both can give you that energy boost without so much intensity.
If you consider the “health” of your coffee as more than just what you’re putting in your body, but also how your coffee beans are grown, picked, and get to you, Swinney suggests you’re taking your coffee habit to a more beneficial level—not only for yourself, but for the world. “Drink clean and with a conscience. Choose fair trade or coffee with other certifications that help third-world farmers improve their living conditions. Give some thought to the packaging involved in single-serve coffee—it requires much more packaging and contains a larger carbon footprint for getting to the store.”
In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses' Health Study showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.
In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline, but found no association.
You might think that nonfat, sugar-free vanilla syrup is a healthy choice, but low-calorie doesn’t always translate to health benefits. Swinney suggests weaning yourself off sweeteners completely if you can, but if you can’t, be super picky about the additives you’re putting into your brew. “Pick organic cream to whiten your coffee or make your own packaging-free alternative milk from oats or nuts. Creamers often have artificial flavors, sweeteners, and other additives, so you’re better off using organic milk or cream plus organic brown sugar,” she says. Next, don’t miss these 13 surprising uses for coffee.