Coffee is unhealthy, it will stunt your growth, damage your liver and simply isn’t needed. We’ve all heard that before, right? Yet, research continues to contradict those stereotypes.
Instead, coffee may be one of the healthiest things that you can drink, offering a range of different healthy compounds, including powerful antioxidants.
Research has also linked coffee to various health benefits, including the chance to reduce the risk of some diseases.
But, can drinking coffee make you live longer? To many, this idea may sound too good to be true. Yet, two recent large-scale studies have found precisely this impact.
Why Coffee May Make You Live Longer
Coffee is a complex drink. It contains hundreds of different compounds, many of which we haven’t even identified and certainly don’t understand. These compounds include caffeine, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid and many others (1,2).
Many of those compounds fall into the class of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to fight free radical damage in the body. That type of damage may contribute to disease risk.
By having enough antioxidants in your diet, you can ensure that you’re healthier overall. Indeed, antioxidants themselves may even increase life length (3).
Many people choose options like tart cherry juice as a source of antioxidants. Yet, coffee makes an effective option as well and each cup of coffee has significant antioxidant activity (4). For that matter, many people get most of their antioxidants from coffee (5), partly because it is such a common drink.
At the same time, the other compounds in coffee may offer benefits of their own and can impact health in a range of different ways.
Coffee and Life Length
The first research study we’re considering looked at the connection between coffee and mortality in 10 European countries, with a total of 521,330 participants (6).
When they compared the people who drank the most coffee to those who didn’t, the authors found that coffee drinkers had a lower overall risk of death.
Additionally, decreased risks were found for specific conditions, including circulatory disease (in women), cerebrovascular disease (in women) and digestive disease (in men and women).
This effect remained consistent across countries, suggesting that it was not caused by a specific diet or lifestyle. The researchers also found changes in biomarkers for people who consumed more coffee, suggesting a possible mechanism for the effects.
The second study was set in the United States and considered participants from Hawaii and Los Angeles. This was a multicultural study, with 185,855 participants who were white, African American, Native Hawaiian, Japanese American or Latino (7).
With this study, the authors found an inverse connection between coffee consumption and risk of death, suggesting that higher coffee intake lowered risk.
That association was statistically significant for all groups except Native Hawaiians. It also remained consistent when confounders were taken into account, such as whether participants were smokers and what their age was.
Other Evidence for Drinking Coffee
The two studies above are key pieces of evidence that show how coffee may extend life length. But, they’re far from the only studies out there. In fact, the benefits of coffee have been extensively researched and there are many reasons why you should drink more coffee.
For example, a 2012 study also found that coffee significantly reduced the risk of death, with particularly strong effects for females (8). This impact can be seen in the graph below, where a lower value is a decreased chance of death.
A similar outcome has been found in multiple other studies (9,10,11). This research was all observational, so the outcomes don’t prove cause and effect. But, with so much evidence, it’s likely that the relationship exists.
At the same time, there are many mechanisms for how coffee could make you live longer. For example, coffee can help decrease diabetes risk (12,13,14), can improve insulin response (15), may reduce cancer risk (16,17), promotes weight loss (18,19,20) and helps to protect against brain diseases like Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease (21,22,23). There are also many other potential benefits and research into coffee is still ongoing.
All of these mechanisms strongly show that coffee can help to improve health. It’s easy to see how doing so could contribute to a longer life. What’s more, there are many great brands of coffee out there to choose from.
The simple answer is that coffee is amazingly healthy, as long as you’re not adding in large amounts of sugar, cream and flavorings. For that matter, you can even get benefits from instant coffee and from cold brew coffee, so you can choose the coffee that you enjoy the most.
Even if you’re not convinced that coffee will let you live longer, it’s clear that it isn’t likely to harm you if you drink it in moderation.
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