Every single day, the British Coffee Association estimates that 95 million cups of coffee are consumed in the UK.
That’s more than there are adults in the country, meaning coffee is up there with one of the nation’s favourite drinks. But should we be drinking as much as we do?
Whether you’re enjoying a cup of black coffee every morning, or treating yourself to a cappuccino, here’s what a daily caffeine boost could be doing to your health.
Health benefits of coffee
Coffee can protect you from liver disease
Cirrhosis is the scarring of the liver, due to long-term damage caused by disease and damage.
One study found that drinking 4 cups of coffee a day lowered the risk of cirrhosis by up to 20%. This study’s findings prove coffee to be a useful benefit to people at risk of this issue, like those suffering from hepatitis and liver disease.
Coffee can reduce the risk of some types of cancer
Coffee has a big impact on two of the world’s most life-threatening cancers - liver cancer and colorectal cancer.
One study published findings on the effect of coffee on the risk of liver cancer. Just two cups of coffee a day was enough, it found, to reduce the risk of liver cancer by up to 43%.
This study found that the more coffee consumed (in this case, over 2.5 cups a day), the lower the risk of this type of cancer. A reduced colorectal cancer risk of up to 26% was reported.
Coffee can improve your memory
One study explored the benefits of coffee on cognitive function. In particular, on long-term memory. It was shown that the participants who consumed caffeine could consolidate their long-term memories better than those who didn’t.
Coffee could reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease
The caffeine intake a cup of coffee brings can be beneficial to those worried about the risk of Parkinson’s disease. A study into the effects of coffee and tea on preventing the disease found both of them to have a significant decrease in risk.
Coffee can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
Alzheimer’s disease - the leading cause of dementia - has no known cure. Many studies have explored the possibilities for prevention, though. And, similar to the studies into Parkinson’s disease, caffeine is at the heart of a handful of these studies.
A study into the effects of caffeine on the disease showed a significantly decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Coffee is full of antioxidants
Coffee beans are packed with antioxidants. These help to minimise the harmful effects on the body’s ‘free radicals’. Free radicals damage our healthy cells, causing various problems (including disease like cancer).
Coffee decreases the risk of stroke
People often associate drinking lots of coffee with the side effects of high-stress and poor heart health. However, the actual risk it poses to cardiovascular health is slim.
In fact, when it comes to the risk of having a stroke, one study found a reduced risk of up to 20% amongst coffee drinkers.
Coffee doesn’t increase your risk of heart disease
Whilst studies have shown that in people prone to high blood pressure, coffee should only be consumed in moderation as it can negatively impact your condition.
However, heart disease itself isn’t actually a problem caused by coffee. In fact, one study concluded that there was no evidence to suggest coffee increases the risk of heart disease. It can actually reduce the risk in some female habitual coffee drinkers.
Some antioxidants in coffee - called polyphenols - have also been linked to preventing heart disease.
Coffee reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes
Millions of people around the world are afflicted with type 2 diabetes.
Many studies have documented the beneficial effects of coffee drinking on the reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One of these studies documented a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes by approximately 42% in people consuming at least 3 cups of coffee a day.
Coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of death
A bold statement to make, but one that’s been suggested after one significant study.
A 2012 study looked into the link between coffee drinking and mortality. Over 400,000 people were studied over 13 years, and coffee drinking was associated with a lower chance of death from heart disease, respiratory disease and diabetes. The study was clear about coffee not being directly linked to this reduced risk through their research, but it’s a start.
Coffee drinkers might be less likely to suffer from mental health conditions
It’s not just your physical health that could benefit for the regular cup of coffee. A study published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry concluded that the risk of depression was reduced by 8% per cup. However, there is little research into how coffee helps those already suffering from mental health conditions.