If you’ve ever thought that your morning brew -- the second most popular drink in the world, after water -- was some sort of magical ambrosia from the heavens, you wouldn’t be too far off. In addition to turning you from an asshole into a semi-reasonable human (which is reason enough to drink it), coffee has loads of health benefits that will make you feel way better about your addiction. Here’s the science to prove it.
It keeps you from dying
Good start! In a few different studies, scientists discovered that coffee’s associated with a lower risk of death. Granted, the key here is that this is an association, not a cause-and-effect type of thing, though the researchers speculate that coffee may impact stuff like lung function and inflammation for the better. So the coffee itself may not be the reason for a longer lifespan, but hey, we’ll take it.
It fuels your fitness
Caffeine actually slashes pain during and after exercise, so getting JACKED will be easier if you stopped by a cafe beforehand. Plus, drinking coffee post-exercise may also help you recover by boosting glycogen (a fuel source) in your muscles. So you’ll get even MORE jacked. And that much more fuel means “there is absolutely no question you will go farther or faster” the next day, according to the study author.
It makes you happier
And it’s not just because you’re getting a hit of energy. A team of presumably well-caffeinated researchers discovered that for each cup of coffee you drink, your depression risk drops by 8%. So all you have to do to be happy always and forever is drink 12.5 cups every single day for the rest of your life. Pro tip: Don’t do that.
It’s good for the brain
It might protect your vision
Your vision usually gets worse with age, but the chlorogenic acid (an antioxidant) in coffee may help prevent that. On the flipside, a study from a couple of years ago found that drinking three cups or more per day increases the risk for glaucoma, so either go easy on the dose or find other substances that fight glaucoma.
It lowers your risk for diabetes
The hits just keep on brewing! Three or more cups of coffee on the daily is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and with 29.1 million people in the US living with diabetes, we need all the help we can get to ditch the disease.
It supports heart health
It’s a bummer how many tasty things are terrible for the heart, but at least coffee’s not one of them. In addition to the overall mortality benefits it offers, coffee reduces deaths due to cardiovascular disease by more than 20%.
It may curb cancer
The next time you’re struggling to find a synonym for your morning cup of Joe, try out “natural multitarget pharmacopeia against the hallmarks of cancer.” Because that’s what coffee is, and it just rolls off the tongue.
How does it do all of this?
Well, no one knows for sure. It may be because of its antioxidant activity, says New York City-based nutrition expert Laura Cipullo, author of The Women’s Health Body Clock Diet. The antioxidants in coffee find disease-causing free radicals and prevent them from causing cellular damage in the body, she explains.
Whatever the reason, coffee rocks.
Get the most out of your cup(s)
Some of the studies above suggest that more is more (remember that 12.5 cups thing?). But there’s a limit to how much coffee you can handle, no matter how low your tank is running. The Mayo Clinic recommends sticking to about four cups of coffee a day, especially if you want to avoid less-than-awesome side effects, like insomnia, jitteriness, and an upset stomach.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that the fancy and frilly drinks are as good for you as plain coffee. “If you want the true benefits of coffee, just have it black or with a little milk,” says Cipullo. All the sugar and the almond-mocha-pumpkin-spiced whatever may negate or neutralize the good stuff.