Coffee and Your Health

The U.S. is in love with coffee. Roughly 62 percent of Americans drink it every day, an all-time high—and coffee may just well love us back. Recent scientific studies suggest moderate consumption may help reduce some disease risks. These studies are observational, meaning that researchers draw conclusions based on differences between the number of disease cases in coffee drinkers versus non- drinkers.

Two decades of research suggests that coffee may help reduce the risk of illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease to Alzheimer’s. Although coffee was considered unhealthy and possibly harmful a few decades ago, recent studies suggest that coffee may, in fact, provide health benefits, says Edward Giovannucci, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in a recent Consumer Reports article about the best coffees and coffee makers and the surprising health benefits of java. Several studies have found that coffee drinkers are less likely to die prematurely than non-coffee drinkers. Other research has suggested additional benefits:

  • Long-term coffee drinkers may be at a reduced risk of onset of type 2 diabetes.
  • Drinking coffee regularly could lower rates of disease progression in both liver cancer and cirrhosis.
  • Caffeinated coffee may play a role in preventing symptomatic gallstone disease.
  • Recent studies suggest that drinking coffee doesn’t have a harmful effect on heart disease or stroke.
  • Drinking caffeinated beverages may lessen the risk of Parkinson’s disease.

For people who shouldn’t drink too much caffeine, such as pregnant women or people taking certain antibiotics, antidepressants, and antipsychotics, decaffeinated coffee may be a healthy option, Giovannucci says.