Proven Health Benefits of Coffee and Caffeine Based on Scientific Evidence

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Proven Health Benefits of Coffee and Caffeine Based on Science

Coffee is a tasty beverage that is surprisingly good for you. Scientific research into the health benefits of coffee has found that coffee is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that can benefit your health. Drinking coffee in moderate amounts is good for your health because it can help to improve your alertness, increase energy levels, and improve cognitive function.


It may also surprise you to learn that regular coffee consumption is linked to better cardiovascular health, losing weight and managing the symptoms of diabetes. The stimulating effect of caffeine in coffee also acts as a mild antidepressant in the body.

Drinking too much coffee or beverages containing caffeine can be bad for you because of some adverse side effects. However, drinking 1 or 2 cups of regular black coffee a day has many health benefits.

In this article, you will learn about what science says as to reasons why a cup of coffee a day can be good for your health. You will also find out how much coffee to drink every day to prevent side effects of taking too much caffeine.

What is Coffee?

Coffee is a dark, bitter drink made from roasted coffee beans that grow on the Coffea plant. Coffee beans are actually seeds, and these are roasted to different degrees to create various coffee roasts.

Coffee is best known for its stimulating effect due to caffeine. According to the doctors from the Mayo Clinic, one cup of regular brewed coffee contains between 95 and 165 mg of caffeine. One espresso coffee (1 oz., or 30 ml) contains between 47 and 64 mg of caffeine. (1)

Nutritional Value of Coffee

Starting your day with a cup of freshly brewed coffee can not only help to wake you up but give you important nutrients and antioxidants.

Coffee is a low-calorie drink, and one cup of brewed coffee contains 2 calories. (2)

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one cup of coffee contains B-group vitamins with riboflavin being the highest. 2 cups of coffee a day will give you 0.4 mg riboflavin which is 22% of your recommended daily intake (RDI). (2)

Coffee also contains trace elements of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. (2)

One of the main reasons why one or two cups of coffee a day is good for you is that coffee contains antioxidants. Research into the benefits of coffee has revealed that certain acids like caffeic acid are strong antioxidants. Also, roasting coffee beans increases the levels of the amino acid phenylalanine which has high antioxidant activity. (3)

In fact, some researchers also class caffeine as an effective antioxidant that can help to inhibit certain chronic diseases. (4)

Because of coffee’s high antioxidant content, a cup of coffee may be better for you than tea. One study found that coffee contains significantly stronger antioxidant activity than green tea or black tea. (5)

Even though gram for gram coffee and tea contain about the same amount of caffeine, a cup of coffee contains about double the amount of caffeine than black or green tea. (1)

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So, if you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, black or green tea may be better for you than coffee.

Is Coffee Good for You? Health Benefits of Coffee

Let’s look at the many reasons why a cup of coffee every day can boost your health in general.

What is coffee good for? Research published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition reports that coffee has many health-promoting benefits. Coffee is good for improving brain health, protecting against diabetes symptoms, and has detoxifying properties. (6)

Coffee Helps to Keep you Alert and Increases Attention

One of the benefits of drinking black coffee is that caffeine in coffee increases your alertness and improves attention.

A 2017 study found that caffeine has a positive effect on alertness and attention. In the study, adults were given coffee sachets with some containing caffeine and others containing decaffeinated coffee. The trial found that consuming coffee with caffeine had a direct effect on attention and alertness. (7)

Research also points to the fact that there may be an optimal amount of coffee that can improve cognitive function. For example, one study found that 200 mg of caffeine (about 2 cups of regular coffee) was most effective at affecting dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is connected with regulating attention and cognitive function. (8, 9)

One small study on 6 men and 6 women found that caffeine can help to overcome feelings of sleepiness and tiredness. (10)

Coffee Is Good for Helping to Burn Fat

Drinking a cup or two of coffee a day can be good for you if you are trying to lose weight and belly fat.

The reason that coffee helps to lose weight is that coffee helps to increase energy expenditure. For example, a study found that one cup of coffee (containing 100 mg of caffeine) helps to increase the metabolism in humans. This helped previously obese adults burn up to 79 kcal more a day and had an anti-obesity effect. (11)

One study involving healthy young men found that consuming caffeine helps to increase the breakdown of fats in the body. (12)

There is also evidence that drinking 2 or 3 cups of coffee can help manage weight loss better. One trial involving over 2,000 individuals found that people who consumed more coffee found it easier to maintain weight loss. (13)

Find out what others foods you can consume to help burn belly fat faster.

Coffee Consumption Can Improve Your Energy Levels and Stamina

Having a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a small espresso can increase your levels of performance and endurance.

For example, one study involving sedentary men found that consuming caffeinated coffee improved energy utilization. The research found that coffee is an ergogenic aid and helps to increase physical performance. (14)

Scientists have found that consuming between 200 mg and 600 mg of caffeine can enhance endurance performance. (15)

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However, some studies have shown that consuming caffeine as coffee for its energy enhancing properties isn’t as effective as taking pure caffeine. (16)

Caffeine also has anti-inflammatory properties. A double-blind study found that caffeine supplementation can offset the effects of inflammation after strenuous exercise. (25)

Coffee Is Good for Your Brain

Compounds in coffee stimulate neurotransmitters in your brain that help to improve cognitive health.

Studies on the benefits of caffeine on cognitive processes have found that it can help improve learning, memory, and protect against age-related cognitive diseases. (17)

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reported that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day can help to decrease a person’s risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The study found that coffee had a better effect than black tea at preventing cognitive decline. (18)

Coffee contains biochemicals that inhibit certain receptors in the brain and increase levels of dopamine. (19) Scientists have linked low dopamine levels in the brain with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. (20, 21)

Coffee Boosts Your Mood and Has an Anti-Depressant Effect

One of the black coffee benefits on your brain is that regularly drinking 2 cups of coffee every day can help lift your mood and may even prevent depression.

A 2016 meta-analysis of observational studies involving over 300,000 persons found that regular coffee consumption is linked with decreased instances of depression. Each cup of coffee consumed daily helped lower the risk of depression by 8%. Scientists found that drinking between one and 5 cups of coffee a day (68 to 509 mg caffeine) had a significant effect on preventing depression. (22)

One study found that women who drink 2 or 3 cups of coffee a day suffer less from depression than those who rarely drink coffee. Researchers suggested that coffee drinking could help prevent depression. (23)

However, drinking too much coffee a day could be detrimental to your mental health. A 2016 study from South Korea found that high intakes of caffeine are linked with an increased risk of depression and insomnia. (24)

Further reading: How to treat mild depression naturally.

Coffee May Be Good for Your Liver’s Health

Many people wonder if coffee is bad for your liver. Coffee is a natural anti-inflammatory agent that can help to reduce the effects of liver disease.

A study of men with chronic hepatitis C virus found that just one cup of coffee a day containing 100 mg of caffeine can prevent scarring of liver tissue. Scientists concluded that drinking coffee every day has health benefits if you have chronic liver disease. (26)

Studies have shown that regular coffee consumption helps prevent liver damage in cases of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. (27)

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Coffee is not bad for your liver; however, you should also learn about 5 common habits that can damage your liver.

Coffee Helps Manage Symptoms of Diabetes

Drinking coffee can be good for you if you have diabetes because compounds in coffee help to normalize blood glucose levels.

A review of the effects of coffee on people with type 2 diabetes found that coffee affects glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and glucose absorption. Coffee also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that are useful for treating diabetes. (28)

A cohort study on drinking coffee every day found that both regular coffee and decaffeinated coffee help prevent type 2 diabetes. Researchers summarized that a combination of the many compounds in coffee has a beneficial effect in preventing diabetes. (29)

To help prevent developing diabetes, it is important to recognize the first signs of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee Drinking Reduces Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Drinking coffee is good for your heart. Contrary to popular belief, coffee doesn’t increase your chances of suffering from cardiovascular heart disease.

A meta-analysis examining the results of 36 studies involving over 1,000,000 persons did not find a link between coffee consumption and an increased risk of heart disease. Researchers found that drinking between 3 and 5 cups of coffee a day did not elevate your risk of cardiovascular disease. (30)

For example, studies have shown that women who consume moderate amounts of coffee (around 3 cups of coffee per day) actually had a lower risk of coronary heart disease. (31)

Research from Japan found that increased coffee consumption also lowered a person’s risk of stroke. Consuming 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day up to 6 times a week can reduce your risk of various types of cardiovascular disease. (32)

So drinking a cup or two of coffee every day certainly isn’t one of the habits that could damage your heart.

Coffee Is Good for Male Sexual Health

One of the coffee benefits for men is that drinking at least one cup of coffee a day can improve sexual function.

A survey published in the journal PLoS One involving over 3,700 men found that regular coffee drinking can prevent erectile dysfunction. The survey found that men who consumed 2 cups of coffee a day reported fewer instances of erectile problems. (33)

Find out about other natural foods that can boost your sex drive and improve your sexual health.

Coffee May Reduce Your Risk of Kidney Stones

One of the good things about drinking one or two cups of coffee a day is that you have less chance of getting kidney stones.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that studies involving over 200,000 adults showed that consuming coffee daily can lower your risk of kidney stones by 26%. Increasing coffee intake helped to produce more urine that flushes out excess minerals. Coffee consumption also lowered oxalate and uric acid levels which helps to prevent kidney stones from forming. (34)

Other studies have found that regularly consuming caffeinated beverages actually helps to prevent kidney stones from forming in the first place. (35)

If you suffer from kidney stones, learn about natural ways to get rid of these painful mineral build ups and how to use apple cider vinegar (ACV) for kidney stones.

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Coffee Can Help Prevent Gout

Another of the benefits of drinking black coffee is that lowering levels of uric acid help to prevent gout.

Researchers found that long-term coffee consumption helps to lower the risk of gout in women. The study examined the effects of drinking coffee every day over a 26-year period. Those women who regularly consumed coffee daily reported fewer cases of gout than non-coffee drinkers. (36)

Drinking black coffee regularly also lowers the risk of gout in men. A prospective study found that, over a 12-year period, increased coffee intake lowered their risk of gout. (37)

Further reading: The best ways to treat gout naturally.

Coffee Has Antioxidants and May Protect You Against Cancer

Antioxidants in coffee help protect your cells against DNA damage that could lead to various types of cancer.

A meta-analysis of many studies into the protective effect of coffee on cancer found that by increasing coffee intake to 2 cups a day you can lower your risk of certain cancers. Consuming more coffee daily has been linked to helping prevent liver cancer, prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, and melanoma. (38)

A summary of studies into the coffee and cancer risk published in 2017 found that there is no associated risk of coffee intake and cancer. (39)

There are no trials saying how much coffee a day adults should drink to reduce their risk of cancer. Most doctors agree that a diet rich in antioxidants like fresh fruit and vegetables can help to reduce your risk of cancer. (46)

Find out what are the best foods to prevent cancer.

How Much Coffee to Drink Daily?

How much coffee is it good to drink daily if you want to improve cognitive function and lower your risk of developing chronic diseases?

Doctors from the Mayo Clinic say that consuming caffeine up to 400 mg per day is safe for most adults. Depending on the type of coffee and brewing methods, it should be safe to drink between 2 and 4 cups of coffee every day. (40)

How much coffee is safe to drink daily also depends on your consumption of other beverages containing caffeine such as green tea, black tea, and colas.

Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Coffee

Drinking coffee every day can have some perks in that it helps to keep you alert, boosts your mental faculties, and improves your mood.

Drinking more than 4 cups of strong coffee a day can be bad for your health because it can cause a number of side effects. Also, depending on how your body responds to caffeine, drinking fewer cups of coffee may be better for you.

Let’s look briefly at some of the side effects of consuming too many cups of coffee daily.

Coffee can raise blood pressure

One of the side effects of drinking coffee is that it can increase blood pressure.

A meta-analysis of 16 randomized controlled trials found that drinking more than 3 cups of coffee a day can cause a slight rise in blood pressure. (41)

Another study found that drinking espresso coffee only increased the blood pressure of people who usually don’t drink coffee. (42)

Further reading: Steps you can take to lower your blood pressure without medication.

Coffee can cause insomnia

Because coffee stimulates your brain and makes you more alert, drinking too much coffee daily can negatively affect your sleep patterns.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reported that the stimulating effects of caffeine (400 mg) can last for up to 6 hours. Researchers found that even a moderate dose of caffeine 3 or 6 hours before going to bed can cause sleep disturbance. (43)

If you still can’t get to sleep despite not drinking coffee in the evening, learn about natural way to improve your sleep patterns.

Coffee is addictive

Habitual coffee drinkers who drink too much coffee per day can become addicted to coffee.

The Journal of Caffeine Research reported that people dependent on coffee can find it difficult to cut down on coffee consumption. Scientists warn that drinking 5 or more cups of coffee a day (548 mg of caffeine) can lead to addiction and other negative health consequences. (44)

Coffee can cause digestive problems

The acidic nature of coffee and its stimulating effect can also upset the digestive system of some people.

A study into the effect of coffee on the gastrointestinal system found that coffee can stimulate symptoms of acid reflux. Researchers have also found that it’s not just caffeine in coffee that causes gastrointestinal effects, but a combination of many chemicals. (45)

If you suffer from gallstones, drinking coffee could aggravate your symptoms.

Coffee also acts as a natural laxative in some people. One study on healthy adults found that consuming black coffee affected the colon and caused bowel movements in some of the participants. (46)

Coffee may slightly increase cholesterol levels

According to doctors on Mayo Clinic, high consumption of unfiltered coffee (boiled or espresso) has been associated with mild elevations in cholesterol levels. (47)

The cholesterol-raising substances in coffee are called diterpenes, and the two main types in coffee are cafestol and kahweol. These are oily substances that most of them are trapped by a paper filter, so coffee that has been filtered has little, if any, effect on cholesterol levels. (48)

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2 Responses to Proven Health Benefits of Coffee and Caffeine Based on Scientific Evidence

  1. JAV says:

    But, how many mg of coffee powder per cup?

    • Jenny Hills, Medical Writer and Researcher says:

      Please remember that caffeine content of a cup of coffee can vary considerably due to factors such processing and preparation method, brewing time, country of origin etc. This is why Mayo Clinic gives range and uses the numbers as a guide: one cup of regular brewed coffee contains between 95 and 165 mg of caffeine.

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