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5 Surprising Ways Coffee Is Making You Healthier

by | Apr 20, 2015 | Last updated Apr 5, 2023

Having a fresh cup of coffee in the morning is one of life’s simple pleasures. And having a cup of coffee in the afternoon is a lifeline that keeps many of us peppy through the end of the workday. Aside from the energy jolt it delivers, coffee has numerous health benefits from preventing disease to increasing life span. Read below for coffee’s best benefits.

Coffee is America’s Number One Source of Antioxidants

A study from the University of Scranton found that coffee is America’s No. 1 source of antioxidants. “Antioxidants are your army to protect you from the toxic free radicals, which come from breathing oxygen and eating sugar, that start chronic diseases,” said Dr. Joe Vinson, the chemistry professor who led the coffee study. “Antioxidants help stave off cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke.” And don’t think you need to be riding a caffeine buzz all day to get the benefits. Decaf has the same antioxidant benefit as its caffeinated counterpart.

Helping to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

Numerous studies have shown that coffee can help to prevent type 2 diabetes. Why? Researchers at UCLA have discovered a molecular mechanism behind coffee’s protective effect. The science has to do with a protein called SHGB. The research suggests an inverse association between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes risk, meaning the more you drink, the lower your risk.

Lowering Risk of Liver Disease

Coffee may help prevent the risk of liver disease, as well as lower the risk of liver cancer. Italian researchers found that coffee consumption lowers the risk of liver cancer by about 40%. It also lowers the risk of the liver disease, PSC, especially in alcohol drinkers.

Reduced Risk of Heart Failure and Skin Cancer

In 2012, two studies out of Harvard School of Public Health found links between coffee consumption and reduced risk of heart failure and skin cancer. One study found that drinking one or two cups of coffee daily may help protect against heart failure. The study found that about 16 ounces of coffee daily may lower heart failure risk by 11%. As with everything, moderation is key. Benefits of coffee appear to peak at 16 ounces daily and there is no benefit at more than five cups daily.

Coffee Can Make You Feel Happier

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health found that coffee drinkers (specifically those who drank four or more cups daily) were about 10% less likely to be depressed than those who had never tasted morning joe. What’s with the mood boost? It can be linked to coffee’s ample supply of antioxidants.

The Downside

While coffee on its own contains no calories, many coffee additives are high in fat and sugar. For example, if you drink four cups of coffee a day with 2 tablespoons of cream in each, that’s an extra 160 calories a day! Not to mention the sugar that may be added to coffee, too. While most research suggests that the benefits of coffee far exceed the risks, you shouldn’t have over four 8-ounce cups daily. Heavy daily caffeine use (more than 500 to 600 mg a day) can cause side effects such as insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, upset stomach, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors. The best way to gauge if you’re having too much coffee is to pay attention to your body. If a small cup makes you jittery, don’t push it. If your normal intake is five cups with no side effects, you should be fine.