The Beverage Guidance Panel, assembled to provide recommendations on benefits and risks of various beverage categories, found tea and coffee—preferably without creamer or sweetener—tied as the number-two healthiest beverages, second only to water.
Indeed, studies have shown many potential benefits to coffee consumption. For those infected with hepatitis C, for example, drinking coffee may reduce DNA damage, increase the clearance of virus-infected cells, and slow the scarring process, which may help explain coffee’s apparent role in reducing liver disease progression risk.
What about coffee and Parkinson’s? Consumption seems to be associated with about one-third lower risk. The key ingredient appears to be the caffeine, since tea also seems protective and decaf coffee does not. And for treating Parkinson’s? Giving Parkinson’s patients the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee a day significantly improved movement symptoms within three weeks.
The National Institutes of Health–AARP Diet and Health Study, the largest-ever prospective study conducted on diet and health, found that people who drank six or more cups of coffee per day had a 10 to 15 percent lower mortality rate due to fewer deaths from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries, accidents, diabetes, and infections. However, when a study looked at people 55 and younger, the opposite effect was found: Drinking more than six cups of coffee daily was found to increase the risk of death. The bottom line, based on all the best studies to date, is that coffee consumption may indeed be associated with a small reduction in mortality, on the order of a 3 percent lower risk of premature death for each cup of coffee consumed daily.
We used to think caffeine might increase the risk of atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm, but studies dispelled that myth. Moreover, “low-dose” caffeine, defined as drinking fewer than about six cups of coffee a day, may even have a protective effect on heart rhythm.
Harvard University researchers found that people who drank two or more cups of coffee daily appeared to have about only half the suicide risk compared to non-coffee drinkers, and a Kaiser Permanente study found that people who drank more than six cups a day were 80 percent less likely to commit suicide, though drinking eight or more cups daily has been associated with increased suicide risk.
Coffee is not for everyone, though. People with glaucoma, epilepsy, and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may want to stay away from caffeinated coffee.
Image Credit: Amanda Rae. This image has been modified.
Popular Videos for Coffee
All Videos for Coffee
Optimizing Water Intake to Lose Weight
Two cups of cold water on an empty stomach a few times a day for weight loss.
The SARS Coronavirus and Wet Markets
The role live animal markets and the trade in exotic animals have played in the emergence of deadly coronavirus outbreaks.
What Are the Best Foods?
A review of reviews on the health effects of animal foods versus plant foods.
What Are the Best Beverages?
A review of reviews on the health effects of tea, coffee, milk, wine, and soda.
Alternate-Day Intermittent Fasting Put to the Test
Does every-other-day-eating prevent the metabolic slowing that accompanies weight loss or improve compliance over constant day-to-day calorie restriction?
Do the Health Benefits of Coffee Apply to Everyone?
Genetic differences in caffeine metabolism may explain the Jekyll and Hyde effects of coffee.
Does Low-Acid Coffee Cause Less Acid Reflux?
What is low-acid coffee, and does it help those who suffer from acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion?
Which Coffee Is Healthier: Light vs. Dark Roast?
Dark roast coffee is more effective than light roast coffee in reducing body weight.
Are There Benefits of Energy Drinks?
The effects of Red Bull and Monster brand energy drinks on artery function and athletic performance.
Are There Risks to Energy Drinks?
Red Bull and Rockstar brand energy drinks are put to the test.
Does Adding Milk Block the Benefits of Coffee?
How to choose the healthiest coffee, and the effects of adding milk vs. soymilk.
Does Coffee Affect Cholesterol?
New data suggests even paper filtered coffee may raise LDL bad cholesterol.