21 Proven Health Benefits Of Coffee (And 3 Risks) — 2019 Update

coffee health benefits

It’s crazy how wrong the internet tends to be about coffee health benefits. Most writers completely skip the peer-reviewed studies and go straight for the clickbait headlines—so they end up making claims that are misleading or only half-true.

We’re not going to do that. For every health claim we make, we’ll back it up by linking to a verified study so you don’t have to take our word for it.

Because you don’t have time to waste on blogs filled with pseudo-science.

Because you need the facts, not some blogger’s 3rd-hand account of a news story.

We’re getting real with you on the proven health benefits of coffee—and a few health risks you should watch out for.

We’ll cover things like…

  • If coffee increases your risk of getting cancer
  • How to capitalize on coffee’s natural workout boost
  • Whether coffee can help you lose weight or not
  • And so, so much more

Oh, and if you have serious questions, please talk to your own doctor about it. We love coffee, science, and health, but we’ll leave the personal advice for your doctor, who knows your history.

60-Second Summary: The Biggest Health Benefits Of Coffee

Let’s get a quick birds-eye view of the top health benefits of coffee you should be aware of.

  • Coffee is a natural mood enhancer.
  • Yes, coffee can reduce your risk of (some) cancers.
  • Coffee is heart-healthy.
  • If you work out, coffee’s your friend—for several reasons.
  • Coffee helps you avoid Type 2 Diabetes.

These big benefits are largely the result of smaller benefits that work together to make you healthier, so let’s dive into the complete list (and research) so you can see the full picture.

21 Science-Backed Coffee Health Benefits

We’ll break up the list into a few categories, and health benefits will be clearly marked like this:

(1) Coffee’s known to increase endurance during workouts.

That way it’s easy to see the health claims that are specifically from research, and which ones are just helpful explanation.

Coffee’s Impact On Physical Performance

Do you reach for a Gatorade or a coffee when you work out? You may want to grab the coffee next time, because (1) coffee’s known to increase endurance during workouts.

But not only that, (2) it makes it feel like you expend less energy overall.

That’s all from The European Food Safety Authority, who writes…

“There is an association between caffeine consumption and an increase in endurance performance, endurance capacity, and a reduction in the rated perceived effort or exertion during exercise.”

Essentially, for a short time, coffee helps you work out harder while feeling like it was easier… sounds like the way to go!

Coffee And Cancer — Where Are We With This One?

California really spread a lot of rumors in 2018 when a judge ruled that coffee beans needed to have a cancer warning label on the bags.

Talk about a buzzkill.

But here’s what research says: coffee consumption can confidently be linked to…

 

  • (3) Reduced risk of Colorectal Cancer. A Japanese study found the best evidence of this, though a handful of studies in the US/EU have also shown these results.

 

  • (4) Reduced risk of Oral/Esophageal Cancer. Significant “inversal trends” have been discovered between coffee drinking and this kind of cancer, indicating that coffee plays a role in keeping cancer at bay.

 

  • (5) Reduced risk of Pancreatic/Bladder Cancer. If you’re 65+ years old, coffee has a noticeable impact by reducing your risk of this kind of cancer. For younger people, however, no impact can be seen.

 

  • (6) Reduced risk of Kidney Cancer. Coffee has a clear connection to a reduced risk of developing kidney cancer.

 

 

  • (8) Reduced risk of Melanoma. Researchers are the least certain about this one. This study claims the reduced risk is “extremely likely” but not 100% definitive.

 

So why did that California judge say coffee beans need a cancer warning label?

It all comes down to a chemical called acrylamide. It’s thought to cause cancer, but the proof really isn’t in the pudding…

Acrylamide is only shown to cause cancer in rats and mice—not people. And even our own cancer.gov website says there’s “no consistent evidence that dietary acrylamide exposure is associated with the risk of any type of cancer”.

The American Center For Cancer Research isn’t worried either: “Those who like drinking coffee should have no concerns at all.” The FDA, WHO, and USDA all agree as well.

If you’re still worried, you can read more about the ruling (and the science behind why there’s no actual risk) on the Specialty Coffee Association website.

Coffee Gives You The Good Feels

You know coffee improves your mood (duh), but now we have the science to prove it. There are two primary ways it works:

The first is that (9) the caffeine in coffee helps your dopamine system work better. The receptors in your brain are more efficient, which means you get a bigger hit of good vibes when dopamine is released naturally.

The second is that (10) the caffeine keeps you from feeling sleepy and tired. The caffeine molecules block your brain from receiving adenosine molecules, the things that make you feel tired and drowsy. It’s not a replacement for good sleep though.

Coffee Is Healthy For Your Heart

Heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, coronary heart disease—these are all manifestations of cardiovascular disease (CVD)… the #1 cause of death in the United States.

While coffee’s not a cure-all—and definitely not a substitute for a healthy diet and exercise—it can help reduce your risk of some of the issues that lead to CVD.

According to the American Heart Association (11) 3-5 cups of coffee per day is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Institute For Scientific Information On Coffee also cites two big heart-related benefits:

  • (12) A 17% reduced risk of strokes with 2 cups of coffee per day
  • (13) A 21% reduced risk of CVD mortality with 3+ cups per day

That’s great news for anyone with a family history of heart issues (like, 99% of us). All the more reason to drink up!

Does Coffee Reduce The Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes?

There was a lot of conflicting research on how coffee impacts diabetes in the 80’s and 90’s—and it led to some inaccurate conclusions in this area.

Thankfully, diabetes specialists in the 21st century tend to agree: coffee is an ally for those at risk of Type 2 Diabetes—not a villain.

One Harvard study found that just (14) one cup of coffee per day reduces your risk of getting Type 2 Diabetes by 17%.

And the more you drink, the better your odds. (15) 6+ cups per day reduces your risk by 22%. Of course, you’ll probably get the jitters at that point… but we’ll let you decide if it’s worth it.

The weird thing is, scientists don’t actually know why coffee helps with diabetes—they can just draw more accurate conclusions than before. But we’re not complaining.

Coffee Keeps You From A Premature Death… For Real?

This one can be really misleading—especially when lazy writers go full-on clickbait.

Yes, there are multiple studies that demonstrate (16) drinking coffee helps with so many illnesses that you’re more likely to live longer if you drink it.

However, the impact isn’t massive—less than a 5% decreased risk of premature death (mostly from CVD, cancer, or kidney disease).

It’s great news, but once again, coffee’s not a cure-all, and if you use it as an excuse to not eat healthily or exercise, you won’t be seeing any life-prolonging effects.

Coffee Can Complement Other Weight Loss Efforts

We hesitate to even mention this one, because it’s easy for it to be misrepresented.

So let’s be super clear here…

(17) Drinking coffee can help you lose weight faster, but it doesn’t cause you to lose weight on its own.

It works by causing your body to produce adrenaline and stimulating your nervous system. (18) It also increases your metabolism by 3-11% for a short time.

These help your body process excess fat as energy… but only when a weight-management system is already in place.

There’s no such thing as “weight loss coffee”. Don’t fall for those scams.

All coffee—without cream and sugar—will help you lose weight marginally faster when you’re already putting effort into losing weight, but it won’t do the actual work for you.

Health Benefits We’re Less Certain About

There are several health benefits that have been noticed by some researchers, but the evidence isn’t quite as clear. Let’s mention a few of these.

 

  • (19) Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of getting Parkinson’s Disease later in life. Several studies show a connection, but a couple show zero connection. We need more research to know for sure.

 

  • (20) Coffee might lessen the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Once again, Alzheimer’s is so complex that we need more research to really draw a solid conclusion here, but it seems a connection is likely.

 

  • (21) Drinking 3-5 cups per day is associated with a lower risk of liver disease. This one’s pretty well documented, with researches saying they’re pretty confident in the connection.

 

And if the next few years are like the last few, we’ll know lots more about coffee’s health benefits soon!

What Are The Health Risks Of Drinking Coffee?

Like with anything in life, coffee’s not without its drawbacks.

We believe the pros far outweigh the cons for most people, but it’s important to know what the negative consequences could be just in case.

Here are the 3 big ones.

Caffeine Can Lead To Anxiety

It’s easy to fall into unhealthy patterns when caffeine is involved.

You work hard. You drink coffee. You’re stressed and can’t sleep well. So you drink more coffee to make up for it… and then the cycle repeats itself.

This can lead to “anxiety neurosis”, a fairly common anxiety disorder. The symptoms tend to include:

  • Nervousness
  • Jitters and twitches
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Irritable mood

It’s not really dangerous, but it can impact your quality of life and wear you down even more—often without you realizing it.

The way to fix it is to slow down on the coffee and prioritize getting good sleep. You don’t have to quit coffee altogether though.

Some People Get Upset Stomachs

This one is really common—and easily avoidable (most of the time).

There are three main reasons coffee can upset your stomach:

  • You’re sensitive to the acids
  • You’re sensitive to the caffeine
  • You’re drinking on an empty stomach

The #1 reason people get an upset stomach from coffee is because they don’t have enough food to balance out the extra acid your stomach produces when it encounters caffeine.

So it’s not that you’re sensitive to the acids or the caffeine on their own (that’s pretty uncommon). I’s that you need more substance in your belly to account for the extra acid your stomach makes on its own.

For most people, a more hearty breakfast should do the trick.

Cream And Sugar… Ugh

As much as you may like a hint of cream and sugar in your coffee, it’s not a ritual worth keeping—at least from a health and nutrition perspective.

Most people intake a dangerous amount of sugar, which is one of the main causes of obesity and a massive list of related health problems.

Sugar-rich creamers from the store are a no-go. A touch of milk is acceptable.

But the only way to make sure you’re getting 100% of the benefits and 0% of the consequences is to drink your coffee black.

Thankfully, it’s gotten so much easier.

Black Coffee Actually Tastes Good Now

We know a lot more about coffee than we did… say… 20 years ago.

And it tastes so much better these days.

Ever tasted coffee with notes of…

  • Sweet strawberry?
  • Honeysuckle?
  • Brown sugar and maple syrup?
  • Chocolate cake?

No—we’re not making this up.

‘Specialty Coffee’ is the way of the future because the flavors are really exotic and exciting.

See if you’re a good fit for strawberry-tasting coffee beans here.

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