13 Proven Health Benefits of Coffee
It is loaded with antioxidants and beneficial nutrients that can improve your health.
The studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of several serious diseases.
Here are the top 13 evidence-based health benefits of coffee, that have been confirmed in actual human studies.
1. Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter
Coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels (1, 2).
This is because it contains a stimulant called caffeine, which is actually the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world (3).
After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into the bloodstream. From there, it travels into the brain (4).
In the brain, caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
When that happens, the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine actually increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons (5, 6).
Many controlled trials in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function. This includes memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general cognitive function (7, 8, 9).
Bottom Line: Caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain, which leads to a stimulant effect. This improves energy levels, mood and various aspects of brain function.
2. Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat
Did you know that caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat burning supplement?
There’s a good reason for that… caffeine is one of the very few natural substances that have actually been proven to aid fat burning.
Several studies show that caffeine can boost the metabolic rate by 3-11% (10, 11).
Other studies show that caffeine can specifically increase the burning of fat, by as much as 10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean people (12).
However, it is possible that these effects will diminish in long-term coffee drinkers.
Bottom Line: Several studies show that caffeine can increase fat burning in the body and boost the metabolic rate.
3. The Caffeine Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, causing it to send signals to the fat cells to break down body fat (13, 14).
But caffeine also increases Epinephrine (Adrenaline) levels in the blood (15, 16).
This is the “fight or flight” hormone, designed to make our bodies ready for intense physical exertion.
Caffeine makes the fat cells break down body fat, releasing them into the blood as free fatty acids and making them available as fuel (17, 18).
Given these effects, it is not surprising to see that caffeine can improve physical performance by 11-12%, on average (29, 20).
Because of this, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about a half an hour before you head to the gym.
Bottom Line: Caffeine can increase adrenaline levels and release fatty acids from the fat tissues. It also leads to significant improvements in physical performance.
4. There Are Essential Nutrients in Coffee
Coffee is more than just black water. Many of the nutrients in the coffee beans do make it into the final drink.
A single cup of coffee contains (21):
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA.
Although this may not seem like a big deal, most people are drinking more than one cup per day. If you drink 3-4, then these amounts quickly add up.
Bottom Line: Coffee contains several important nutrients, including Riboflavin, Pantothenic Acid, Manganese, Potassium, Magnesium and Niacin.
5. Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a gigantic health problem, currently afflicting about 300 million people worldwide.
It is characterized by elevated blood sugars in the context of insulin resistance or an inability to secrete insulin.
For some reason, coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The studies show that people who drink the most coffee have a 23-50% lower risk of getting this disease, one study showing a reduction as high as 67% (22, 23, 24, 25, 26).
According to a massive review that looked at data from 18 studies with a total of 457,922 individuals, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (27).
Bottom Line: Several observational studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of getting type II diabetes, a serious disease that currently afflicts about 300 million people worldwide.
6. Coffee May Protect You From Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
Smiling Elderly Woman
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide.
This disease usually affects people over 65 years of age.
Unfortunately, there is no known cure for Alzheimer’s.
However, there are several things you can do to prevent the disease from showing up in the first place.
This includes the usual suspects like eating healthy and exercising, but drinking coffee may be incredibly effective as well.
Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease (28, 29, 30).
Bottom Line: Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease, which is a leading cause of dementia worldwide.
7. Caffeine May Lower The Risk of Parkinson’s
Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, right after Alzheimer’s.
It is caused by death of dopamine-generating neurons in the brain.
Same as with Alzheimer’s, there is no known cure, which makes it that much more important to focus on prevention.
Coffee Beans Spread Horizontally, Smaller
In studies, coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, with a reduction in risk ranging from 32-60% (31, 32, 33, 34).
In this case, it appears to be the caffeine itself that is causing the effect. People who drink decaf don’t have a lower risk of Parkinson’s (35).
Bottom Line: Coffee drinkers have up to a 60% lower risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disorder.
8. Coffee Appears to Have Protective Effects on The Liver
The liver is an amazing organ that carries out hundreds of important functions in the body.
Several common diseases primarily affect the liver, including hepatitis, fatty liver disease and others.
Many of these diseases can lead to a condition called cirrhosis, in which the liver has been largely replaced by scar tissue.
It turns out that coffee may protect against cirrhosis. People who drink 4 or more cups per day have up to an 80% lower risk (36, 37, 38).
Bottom Line: Coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of developing cirrhosis, which can be caused by several diseases that affect the liver.
9. Coffee Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier
Depression is a serious mental disorder that causes a significantly reduced quality of life.
It is incredibly common and about 4.1% of people in the U.S. currently meet the criteria for clinical depression.
In a Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank 4 or more cups per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed (39).
Another study with 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to commit suicide (40).
Bottom Line: Coffee appears to lower the risk of developing depression and may dramatically reduce the risk of suicide.
10. Coffee Drinkers Have a Lower Risk of Some Types of Cancer
Cancer is one of the world’s leading causes of death and is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells in the body.
Coffee appears to be protective against two types of cancer… liver cancer and colorectal cancer.
Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, while colorectal cancer ranks fourth (41).
Studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 40% lower risk of liver cancer (42, 43).
One study of 489,706 individuals found that those who drank 4-5 cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer (44).
Bottom Line: Liver and colorectal cancer are the 3rd and 4th leading causes of cancer death worldwide. Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of both.
11. Coffee Does Not Cause Heart Disease and May Lower The Risk of Stroke
It is often claimed that caffeine can increase blood pressure.
This is true, but the effect is small (3-4 mm/Hg) and usually goes away if you drink coffee regularly (45, 46).
However, the effect may persist in some people, so keep that in mind if you have elevated blood pressure (47, 48).
That being said, the studies do NOT support the myth that coffee raises the risk of heart disease (49, 50).
In fact, there is some evidence that women who drink coffee have a reduced risk of heart disease (51).
Some studies also show that coffee drinkers have a 20% lower risk of stroke (52, 53).
Bottom Line: Coffee may cause mild increases in blood pressure, which usually diminish over time. Coffee drinkers do not have an increased risk of heart disease, but a slightly lower risk of stroke.
12. Coffee May Help You Live Longer
Given that coffee drinkers are less likely to get many diseases, it makes sense that coffee could help you live longer.
There are actually several observational studies showing that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of death.
In two very large studies, drinking coffee was associated with a 20% lower risk of death in men and a 26% lower risk of death in women, over a period of 18-24 years (54).
This effect appears to be particularly strong in type II diabetics. In one study, diabetics who drank coffee had a 30% lower risk of death during a 20 year study period (55).
Bottom Line: Several studies show that coffee drinkers live longer and have a lower risk of premature death.
13. Coffee is The Biggest Source of Antioxidants in The Western Diet
For people who eat a standard Western diet, coffee may actually be the healthiest aspect of the diet.
That’s because coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants.
In fact, studies show that most people get more antioxidants from coffee than both fruits and vegetables… combined (56, 57, 58).
Coffee is one of the healthiest beverages on the planet. Period.