The health benefits of coffee have been called into question many times over the years. At some points in time, coffee has been hailed as a health icon and in others, deigned a bad habit.
In some much-needed positive caffeine-related news, a new research review has found drinking a couple of cups of coffee per day was actually associated with a lower risk of dying from any cause. Yesssss.
According to The Conversation, coffee drinkers were found to have a lower risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease as well as prostate, endometrial, liver and skin cancers.
The sweet spot for these positive benefits to your mortality comes in at two to five standards cups of coffee per day which “has been associated with reduced mortality in cohort studies across the world,” according to the research paper.
The only exception to this was some potentially negative effects of coffee relating to pregnancy and fracture risk in older women, which adjusted results for possible confounding factors including smoking.
“There was also an association between coffee drinking and risk of fracture in women but not in men,” the researchers wrote. “Women at increased risk of fracture should possibly be excluded.”
The positive benefits of coffee have often been attributed to phytonutrients — chemical compounds found within coffee beans. Phytonutrients are often found in plants, which produce the nutrients to help with growth and according to The Conversation, help to fight off pathogens.
When you drink coffee, you digest and absorb the phytonutrients which then become active in your body’s “biochemical pathways that affect our health and influence whether we develop disease,” Professor Clare Collins wrote for The Conversation.
There are four types of phytonutrients and two are found in coffee beans, as well as a number of other fruits, veggies, herbs and spices. Caffeic acid and chlorogenic acid have been researched in laboratory studies, so while these outcomes can’t be directly applied to humans, there is evidence that these phytonutrients neutralise free radicals that can cause damage to cell walls.
In turn, these compounds convert potential cancer-causing substances into compounds that are less toxic to your body.
So, while the exact reason why coffee seems to be good for mortality hasn’t yet been nailed down just yet, at least we can sip our morning brew while knowing it’s a health helper, not a hindrance.