If you’ve ever heard of people who drink a lot of coffee every day on a regular basis and thought, “Whoa —that can’t be good,” you may not be right after all. Some may think drinking four to six cups a day is too much, but scientists say it might actually be good for you. Keep in mind, though that a true “cup” — an actual measure of 16 tablespoons — is an important distinction, because some of the giant mugs many like to use often hold twice that and more.
The remarkable thing for coffee lovers is that their attachment to their cup of joe is even better for them after age 45. In fact, a 10-year study presented recently at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Barcelona showed that people who drank four cups of coffee per day had a 64 percent decrease in their risk of dying from any cause. Among those aged 45 and over, however, every two cups of daily coffee lowered the risk of dying during the study period by 30 percent; no such association was seen in younger adults.
Around 20,000 participants from the Mediterranean region, which hadn’t been the subject of a coffee-related study as so many other regions have been, were observed in the study. It began in 1999 with the purpose of discovering how a decade of coffee consumption would impact their health. According to the study:
“On entering the study, participants completed a previously validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire to collect information on coffee consumption, lifestyle and sociodemographic characteristics, anthropometric measurements, and previous health conditions. Patients were followed-up for an average of 10 years.”
As it is with most other studies of this type, factors such as gender, lifestyle, overall health, diet, and other sociodemographic information was considered along with such health-impacting lifestyle choices as whether or not the participants smoked or added sugar to their coffee, but in all the cases, such factors didn’t impact the lowered death risk for coffee drinkers.
Coffee Is Good for You, Especially If You’re Middle-Aged
The 64 percent lower mortality risk was observed for the study subjects who drank at least four cups of coffee per day in comparison with people who never drank it. Here’s another interesting factoid: The study also noted a 22 percent decreased risk of all-cause mortality when those who drank four cups a day added another two cups on top of it, indicating a protective effect.
While participants’ average age at the beginning of the study was just over 37, those who were at least 45 when the study began stood out for benefits received — a 30 percent lower risk of death in the next 10 years for every two cups of coffee consumed daily.3 In people younger than 45, there didn’t seem to be any significant impact on either lowering or increasing the study participants’ mortality.
However, Time noted that the study couldn’t necessarily prove a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee drinking and mortality rates. Lead study author Dr. Adela Navarro, a cardiologist at Hospital de Navarra in Pamplona, Spain, explained that the outcomes of their research were most advantageous for healthy people.
One of Navarro’s observations following the study was that no matter what inroads are made to benefit health, observed from the number of lives that may have been lengthened due to this one diet decision — drinking coffee — “Even a small health effect could have important public health consequences.” However, as Medicine Net observed, “Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary because they haven’t been published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.”
What’s so Great About Coffee?
Just like other plant-based foods, coffee has its own unique set of phytonutrients and beneficial compounds that can positively impact your health, such as those already known to fight inflammation, one of the most common and insidious contributors to age-related health challenges. One thing many people aren’t yet aware of is that dark roast coffee, as opposed to light or medium roast coffees, may be more effective at reducing body weight, in restoring red blood cell vitamin E and glutathione concentrations, one study notes.10
HealthLine notes several other valuable health benefits you can get from that good-morning brew, which Statistic Brain says is enjoyed by 54 percent of the American population, which would be a cool 100 million.
Coffee is said to improve energy levels and block an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. This, in turn, boosts other neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, leading to enhanced firing of neurons. The upshot is that brain function is improved, along with memory and general cognitive function.
Coffee can help you burn fat because it boosts your metabolism and drastically improves physical performance, not just in increased adrenaline for sharper “fight or flight” skills — or agility and stamina during exercise — but because it breaks down body fat and turns it into fuel.
As studies have it, drinking coffee may lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes, which affects about 300 million people globally, as well as your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by as much as 60 percent.18 Additionally, coffee contains phytonutrients that enhance your health in several different ways, including providing healthy amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, and niacin in every cup.