If you’ve been following health news lately, you’ve probably come across a plethora of articles touting new studies that support the health benefits of coffee. The age old questions “is coffee good for you” and “is coffee bad for you” finally seem to have clarity, backed by science. Here’s the deal: most of us can not only simply enjoy up to six cups of black caffeinated joe a day, but we can also reap myriad health benefits from doing so. Whereas the latest research on black caffeinated coffee is strong (thus answering another commonly asked question, “is black coffee good for you”), the evidence on the health benefits of decaffeinated coffee is less conclusive.
Recent studies have found that drinking coffee between three and six times a day has numerous positive effects including reducing risk of developing and dying from heart disease and failure and chronic liver disease. In addition, your morning joe is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, some cancers, Alzheimer’s, depression and multiple sclerosis.
One study by Kao et al. used machine learning to take a deeper dive into the Framingham Heart Study and referenced it against two other well known heart studies. Each study had at least 10 years of follow up and together included more than 21,000 participants. All of these studies showed that coffee can decrease the long-term risk of heart failure
Another study in the UK on liver disease looked at just shy of 500,000 participants who drank both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee as well as instant coffee. All participants saw benefits, thanks to two antioxidants (cafestol and kahweol) that other studies have also shown, have anti-inflammatory effects that support liver health.
Still other epidemiological studies conclude that coffee can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. High coffee consumption has been associated with better glucose tolerance and decreased glucose sensitivity. Five or more cups of coffee a day have been correlated with an overall lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
While these are just a couple examples of the latest research on how coffee can alleviate disease, there’s so much more. So, if you’ve been confused or guilt-ridden about your coffee consumption, the jury is out and you can change your tune. The only caveat is that you must be careful about how you drink your coffee. As mentioned, all of these studies speak to black coffee so if you’re use to sweetened lattes, Frappuncios, espresso con pannas, or other types of coffee flavored with milk, sugar, alternative sweeteners and saturated fat, those don’t count and can in fact contribute to weight gain and chronic disease (which doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a properly portioned coffee indulgence as an occasional treat).
Lastly, despite its benefits, coffee is not for everyone. If you have insomnia, anxiety, high blood pressure or are pregnant, for instance, you might not tolerate coffee well, and in that case, might want to skip it or drink herbal or green tea instead.