While the best way to drink coffee is constantly up for debate, it’s clear that Americans can’t live without their daily dose of java: in a 2018 survey, 64 percent of adults in the United States reported having a cup of coffee the previous day. Despite recent concerns about a possible carcinogen — acrylamide — found in the beverage, nutritionist Rachel Beller says a cup of Joe has a very low amount of the compound. And in skipping your morning jolt out of fear of increasing your risk of cancer, you could be missing out on these key health benefits.
Reduces Your Risk of Death
In a study of more than 200,000 people, researchers found that consuming one to five cups of coffee a day was linked to a reduced risk of mortality, up to 15 percent. The association was also seen among people who drank decaf, so if you love the drink’s bitterness but can’t handle the boost it gives you, don’t fret.
Cuts Down on Inflammation
When it comes to combating inflammation, coffee is a double threat. The beans contain an array of antioxidants that work to curtail free radicals or unstable atoms that can damage cells and ultimately drive inflammation, as well as 336 milligrams of caffeine per 28 pieces. According to research, this caffeine can prevent inflammation-causing compounds in human immune cells from becoming agitated and help to protect against age-related inflammation.
Protects Your Brain
Despite its jittery side effects, caffeine from coffee can help lower your risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, Dr. Arnot says. Among older adults who already suffer minor cognitive impairments, which can be a sign of future Alzheimer’s disease, consuming caffeine comparable to the amount in three cups of coffee has been linked to a decreased likelihood of developing dementia.
Plus, coffee could help people who have Parkinson’s disease manage their symptoms: a 2012 study published in the American Academy of Neurology’s official journal found that consuming caffeine equal to that in two eight-ounce cups of coffee each day can help control the involuntary movements that are caused by the disease. However, subsequent research has been unable to replicate this finding.
Lowers the Risk of Disease and Cancer
Not only can coffee help increase blood flow to your heart, research has shown that it can also lower the risk of heart disease, particularly among those who drink three to five cups per day. It can also have positive effects on the liver, like cutting the risk of death from liver cirrhosis, reducing damaging enzyme levels, and curbing liver scarring among those who have hepatitis C.
While we often think loading up on sunscreen is the best way to reduce the risk of skin cancer, a study examining the daily coffee-drinking habits of more than 447,000 people over 10 years found that those who drank at least four cups of caffeinated coffee had a 20 percent lower risk of developing melanoma than those who opted for decaf or skipped the java altogether.
Boosts Your Memory
Drink a cup of Joe after studying for an exam, and you may just ace it the next day. In 2014, researchers at John Hopkins University found that caffeine can strengthen certain memories at least 24 hours after it's consumed. Between a group of people who consumed a caffeine pill five minutes after studying a series of images and another group who were given a placebo after the activity, those who took the stimulant were more likely to correctly identify new images as “similar,” rather than exactly the same, to the images they had viewed the previous day.
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
Alongside being active for at least 150 minutes each week and eating healthy foods, drinking coffee could help reduce your chances of developing Type-2 diabetes. In 2014, researchers at Harvard University published a study of almost 124,000 people over the course of 16 to 20 years, which showed that those who upped their coffee intake by a cup or more each day over a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of developing the chronic condition. People who reduced their daily consumption by one cup, however, had a 17 percent higher risk of acquiring the disease.