The Wonders of Coffee

by Sara Suchy Editor

Consumption of coffee dates back to the 15th century, and according to the National Coffee Association, is one of the most-consumed beverages worldwide. But did you know that in addition to giving you your morning pick-me-up, there are numerous health benefits to drinking coffee? Coffee is rich in powerful antioxidants, which can protect against aging and lower risk of diseases that are caused by oxidative stress, including cancer. Read on to find out more about the wonders of coffee.

Pouring a cup of coffee.

Coffee straight up

According to a 2018 survey, 64 percent of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee on a daily basis. After oil, it’s the second-most-traded commodity in the country. No question — coffee is a big deal. But unlike many of our other favorite foods, coffee may actually make us healthier. Point of clarification: We’re talking about straight-up black coffee. “Coffees” laced with sugar, whole milk, syrup, and whipped cream will not do your body any favors.

Two senior women enjoying a cup of coffee outside.

Coffee in; type 2 diabetes out

Research shows that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Researchers identified two categories of compounds in coffee that block a substance called human islet amyloid polypeptide — a compound that has been found to cause type 2 diabetes. People who drank four or more cups of coffee per day had a 50-percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Another study found that cafestol, a compound in coffee, could help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Smiling woman at window saying good-bye with cup of coffee.

Cancer protection

Similar to how coffee protects the body against type 2 diabetes, coffee also has been shown to protect against certain kinds of cancer, including post-menopausal breast cancer. In another study, researchers found that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day resulted in a seven-percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer. Drinking four or more cups of coffee per day brought a 25 percent reduced risk of endometrial cancer.

Young man drinking coffee in cafe.

Reducing liver disease risk

Caffeine alone has been shown many times over to decrease the risk of liver disease and reduce fibrosis in patients with chronic liver disease. Research published in Hepatology — a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases — found that the caffeine in coffee could also reduce the risk of advanced fibrosis in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Content woman holding a cup of coffee outside.

Who needs Prozac?

Women who increase their consumption of coffee appear to decrease their risk of developing depression. Using data in the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that the nurses with no signs of depression at the onset of the study who consumed two to three cups of coffee per day, had a 15-percent decreased risk of developing depression in a two-year follow up survey.

Woman in the park, texting and drinking a coffee.

Sunscreen and French roast

The American Association for Cancer Research found that the caffeine in coffee may decrease the risk of developing basal cell carcinoma (BCC), which is a form of skin cancer. Specifically, female study subjects who consumed more than three cups of coffee per day saw a 20-percent reduction in the risk of BCC and men who consumed three or more cups of coffee per day saw a nine-percent decreased risk.

Senior woman out for coffee.

Jolt your memory

Lest you think coffee only preserves the body from ailments such as cancer and diabetes, results from one study suggest that it may also protect people from Alzheimer’s disease, even in people predisposed to the condition. Researchers at the University of Florida found that 100 percent of the adults studied with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) who drank three cups of coffee or more per day avoided developing Alzheimer’s disease after two to four years.

Seniors playing cards and drinking coffee.

It may help you live longer

On top of everything else, coffee just may help you live longer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that coffee drinkers were less likely to die from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, and infections. Furthermore, relative to men and women who drank no coffee, those who drank three cups of coffee or more had a 10-percent lower risk of death.

Dentist appointment.

It can improve dental health

Researchers found that black coffee can decrease the risk of tooth decay and cavities. Consuming coffee with added sugar and cream seems to negate this effect. Drinking at least one cup of coffee a day has also been linked to a decreased risk of periodontal disease.

Sara Suchy
Meet Our Writer
Sara Suchy

Sara is a former editor for HealthCentral.