While java’s reputation has flip flopped faster than a politician’s over the past few decades, science shows there are more good reasons to feel buzzed about your morning latte. Need proof?
The benefits of coffee
Let’s take a quick jog down memory lane about how the research behind the benefits of coffee has changed over the years: In 1991, the World Health Organization classified the beverage as a “possible carcinogen.” Then, in 2016, the organization found that there was “no conclusive evidence for a carcinogenic effect of drinking coffee.” And in between, most of the news about coffee was largely positive: That, instead of being harmful to your health, regular coffee consumption (in moderation, of course), is actually good for you.
But here’s the thing: Acrylamide has only been shown to cause cancer in lab rodents.
Still feeling uneasy about your daily cup of joe? Here are five research-backed reasons to turn on your coffee pot.
Coffee might help lower your risk of certain cancers
There are more than 1,000 compounds in coffee, many of which likely harbor anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compounds, according to a recent BMJ research review. “The coffee bean itself has antioxidants in it, which help prevent free radical damage that could potentially lead to cancer,” explains Susan Oh, MPH, director of the nutrition research program at Johns Hopkins, who was not involved with the study.
Coffee could decrease your risk of Alzheimer’s
Over the past decade, studies have found a link between coffee consumption and a lower risk of dementia. It’s thought that the drink’s high caffeine content might be responsible for the brain-boosting benefits. One small study of subjects who showed signs of memory problems found that, over a 2- to 4-year period, people with lower blood levels of caffeine were more likely to develop dementia than those with higher levels. (Want to brew up a tastier cup of joe? Consider trying some of these six ways to flavor your coffee without added sugar.)
Coffee might lower your risk of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s is a disease of the central nervous system characterized by tremors (and you’ve probably heard that Michael J. Fox has it). Scientists are still figuring out what combination of environmental and genetic factors causes some people to develop this disease, but some preliminary research suggests caffeine may have a protective benefit against it. In a 2017 literature review published in the Archives of Medical Science, researchers concluded that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee seem to have lower rates of Parkinson’s, but they couldn’t pinpoint why.
Coffee might protect your ticker
Coffee may also help protect your heart. For decades, patients with abnormal heart rhythms (which can increase the risk for sudden cardiac arrest and stroke), were advised to avoid caffeine. However, a new meta-analysis published in April 2018 indicates that drinking coffee can actually decrease atrial fibrillation frequency by up to 13 percent.
Coffee might help you live longer
Most importantly, research shows that people who drink coffee may be less likely to die from all causes. That was the conclusion of a 2016 review in the European Journal of Epidemiology, which found that drinking 4 cups of coffee a day was associated with a lower risk of mortality, including deaths from heart disease and cancer.
Coffee might help boost your workouts
Need a little boost to get you through your HIIT workout? A 2013 study from PLoS One shows that athletes who consumed coffee an hour before exercise had greater performance than those who drank decaffeinated coffee.