For many people, the idea of starting your day without guzzling that first cup of coffee is unfathomable. The promise of a strong cup of Joe is likely what gets you to pry yourself out of bed and ready to tackle whatever’s next, from a morning workout to a tough meeting to making breakfast for your kids—or even helps you get ready to tackle your everyday shower.
If you’re like 62 percent of Americans, you can’t get through your day without downing at least one cup of coffee. But coffee does more than inject you with a daily pick-me-up; it actually offers a slew of health benefits. One thing to note: The following are perks of the coffee you’re already drinking. They’re not really benefits that should inspire you to start drinking it or drink a whole lot extra. These are health boosters that are already sitting in that cup you’re drinking.
So what, exactly, are all these health benefits of coffee? Here are 12 of them that research has discovered so far. Just remember: Dosage is important. Caffeine overload is not fun. Fortunately, you can get the health benefits without going overboard. Here are more reasons to love the coffee you’re drinking.
1. You’ll Slash Your Diabetes Risk
According to one study, people who regularly drink coffee are less likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who don’t.
And the protection increased the more people chugged: People who consume four to six cups a day can cut their risk of diabetes even more, according to another study.
What’s the link? Coffee is high in a polyphenol called chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to reduce blood sugar concentrations and their absorption in the intestines, which is why it’s believed this may explain some of the diabetes-protective effects they found.
2. You’ll Drive Like a Pro
Drowsy driving is a major cause of many road accidents, so it makes sense that you might need an energy boost before you get behind the wheel.
Enter coffee: Researchers from the Netherlands found that people who consumed one cup of caffeinated coffee in the middle of a four-hour-long tedious driving task swerved less, maintained their speed better, and rated their driving as more responsible than those who sipped decaf.
3. You’ll Avoid Kidney Stones
Sipping some coffee might reduce your risk of experiencing what many say is one of the most painful conditions known to man: kidney stones. According to one study, people who drank coffee were less likely to develop kidney stones than those who consumed it less than once a week.
Because of its caffeine content, coffee helps you pee more, which flushes your body of the excess calcium and sodium that can contribute to kidney stone formation, the researchers say.
Bored with your coffee? Drinking tea, wine, and beer was also associated with a decreased risk of those painful stones. Just don’t sub in soda—people who chug the sweet stuff each day are 23 percent more likely to get kidney stones, found research from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
4. You’ll Remember More Stuff
According to one study, people who consumed 200 milligrams of caffeine—slightly more than what’s in a Starbucks 8-oz blonde roast—after viewing certain images were better able to recall them 24 hours later than participants who didn’t have caffeine.
Caffeine blocks the neurotransmitter adenosine, so it can’t inhibit another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which plays a crucial role in helping you retrieve a memory, the researchers say.
5. You’ll Reduce Your Risk of Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is the second leading cancer that results in death and the sixth most frequently diagnosed cancer in the world. According to one study, people who drank two cups of coffee per day were 43 percent less likely to develop it than those who stayed java-free.
Researchers believe it may be due to compounds inside the drink that lower liver enzymes and slow progression of liver disease. Moreover, as you’ve already seen, coffee has also been shown to reduce your chances of developing diabetes, which is a risk factor for liver cancer and other liver diseases.
6. You’ll Work Out Harder
Drinking a cup of coffee before hitting the gym might lead to some serious performance gains. According to one study, men who sipped a cup of Joe an hour before cycling completed their workouts faster than those who drank a control beverage.
7. You’ll Help Reduce the Risk of Melanoma
Research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that people who drank four or more cups of coffee a day were 20 percent less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, over a nearly 11-year follow-up than those who drank none.
It’s possible that the chlorogenic acid in coffee can hamper the expression of an enzyme called COX-2, which occurs as a result of exposure to UV rays. And this may help suppress the development of melanoma, the researchers believe.
8. You’ll Boost Your Mood
Coffee might just be a liquid happy pill: One study found that men who drank at least four cups of coffee per day were less likely to develop depression than those who drank none.
What’s more, researchers from Harvard also discovered that people who had two to three cups a day of the beverage were 55 percent less likely to die by suicide than nondrinkers.
This might be because caffeine can act as a mild antidepressant by enhancing the transmission of mood-regulating dopamine, the researchers believe.
9. You’ll Lower the Risk of Multiple Sclerosis
According to one review paper, coffee may reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, a disabling neurological disease that hits most often between the ages of 20 and 40.
Some research has also found that people who chugged four or more cups of Joe per day were 33 percent less likely to get the disease over the next year than those who didn’t drink any.
Credit the link to caffeine’s neuroprotective properties, which may be able to halt the production of inflammatory proteins behind the disease’s development.
10. You’ll Save Your Teeth
Coffee may dull your pearly whites a bit, but it also might help keep them in your mouth. Researchers from Boston University found that people who drank one or more cups of coffee each day had fewer teeth with bone loss—the hallmark of periodontal disease, which can cause your teeth to fall out—than those who drank less.
According to the study authors, antioxidants in coffee may be able to mute your body’s own inflammatory process that would otherwise harm your gums and jawbone.
11. You’ll Protect Your Brain and Your Heart
People who drank one cup of coffee a day were 20 to 30 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who didn’t drink any, a study from Japan found. Once-a-day drinkers also cut their risk of heart disease.
The researchers aren’t sure how coffee may be so protective, but they point out that the beverage contains several biologically active compounds, such as caffeine, which have previously been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
12. You’ll Live Longer
Oleg BreslavtsevGetty Images
You read that right. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that those who drank 1½ to 3½ cups of coffee per day, even with a bit of sugar, were up to 30 percent less likely to die during the study period than those who didn’t. All the more reason to say yes to topping off your cup.
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