What are the health benefits of drinking coffee?

Enough studies have now been performed that we can say with confidence that six or more cups (4 ounces of coffee) of coffee a day decreases your risk of Parkinson's disease by approximately 40 percent and your risk of Alzheimer's disease by approximately 20 percent. Are these intervention studies—that is, controlled trials, which are the gold standard of scientific research? No, but even when you take into account every other factor we know that is associated with arterial aging, immune aging or accidents, caffeine seems to decrease your risk of these severe, incapacitating, neurologic diseases.

Ximena Jimenez
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

If you needed an excuse to drink coffee; you now have four reasons. Coffee is a good source of magnesium, potassium, vitamin B3 and antioxidants. It seems that the antioxidants in coffee are responsible for all its health benefits. Recent research shows that moderate coffee consumption may help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, parkinson's disease and breast cancer in premenopausal women. Make sure you include other sources of antioxidants: veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains in your diet.

Are you one of the more than 100 million Americans who routinely drink coffee as part of your daily routine? If so, you may actually be doing something good for your health, not just staying alert.

According to several studies, coffee drinkers have a lower rate of type-two diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. A recent study from Harvard University included data from more than 120,000 people and found that drinking one to three cups of coffee per day dropped risk of diabetes by single digits but drinking six cups or more dropped risk by 30 percent in women and 54 percent in men.

Other studies have shown a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease, cirrhosis, gallstones and colon cancer in those who drink coffee on a regular basis. You certainly don't need to go on a caffeine kick to reduce your risk of these diseases, but if you're already drinking coffee in moderation, you can enjoy knowing it may have some health benefits.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Coffee has many benefits such as:

  • Coffee is high in antioxidants. Americans get most of their antioxidants from coffee.
  • Coffee protects the brain. One study found that coffee can help keep the blood-brain barrier intact; this barrier acts as a coating, and protects the brain from unwanted materials and damaging elements, like harmful cholesterol.

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Moderate coffee intake—about one to four cups daily—actually carries some health benefits. One Iowa Women's Health study tracking 27,000 women over 15 years found that the risk of cardiovascular disease dropped by 24 percent among those who drank one to three cups of coffee a day. Other research shows coffee can help ward off uterine and breast cancer in women and slash the risk of liver cancer. People at risk for type 2 diabetes also can benefit: Two studies show coffee—both decaf and regular—reduces the risk of the disease by up to 50 percent.

Drinking coffee helps fight diabetes and depression. One study found that five cups of coffee per day for two months were associated with metabolic benefits. A different study found that drinking more than two cups of coffee daily helps reduce depression in women.

While some studies have uncovered a few of the negative effects of coffee, other studies have suggested that this beverage may have some pretty great health benefits. Some research suggests it may even reduce diabetes risk. So don't feel you have to kick coffee to the curb. You might just want to pass if you're taking the day off from your eat-healthy diet.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.