Research-Backed Health Benefits of Coffee


Is this black liquid I continually pour down my throat really good for me? At some point we’ve all wondered this, and we’ve continually consoled ourselves with the occasional news headline celebrating the positive health impacts of coffee.

The short answer is yes – but – just like grandma always said – only in moderation. I know this isn’t the most sensational introduction, but since this is a health article it’s important to be honest.

So, before I begin to bore you with any more ‘grandma-isms’ let’s jump into my list of 16 Proven (and honest – as backed up by actual studies) Health Benefits of Coffee.

If that’s not enough, we’ll also bust 3 super common coffee-health myths together, and explore 5 simple hacks that will make your coffee even healthier!

#1 Coffee Helps Burn Fat

After years of being buffeted by an endless stream of gimmicky weight loss ads, you may already be critical of this first topic, but, unlike all those horrifically designed pop-ups, this point maintains its validity.

However, the key word here is “helps,” and the key factor is “caffeine”, so don’t switch over to an all-frappuccino diet just yet.

Excess sugar is still bad for you, other nutrients are still essential, but caffeine can help your body burn any excess fat you’ve acquired from your local butcher, and here’s how:

When it comes to fighting fat, metabolism is like your offensive line – the higher your Metabolic rate, the easier it is for you to eat without gaining weight.

You know those skinny people who can eat a mountain of food and stay skinny? Chances are, they have a high Metabolic rate.

Coffee helps you burn fat

One study has proven that caffeine can increase your metabolic rate by 3-11%, up to three hours after ingestion (1).

Another study (2) found that caffeine increases oxidative free fatty acid (FFA) disposal by 44%, which is just a fancy way of saying “converted fat to energy.”

Apart from speeding up your metabolism, caffeine also helps to release (3) FFAs into the bloodstream, making them more available for energy conversion.

#2 Coffee Gives You a (Temporary) Energy Boost

I know this point seems rather obvious – after all, it’s the reason most of you drink coffee – but for that very same reason it belongs in this list.

Do you know why caffeinated coffee has this effect?

In science-y terms, caffeine induces a brain hypoperfusion (4), which means (just in case you weren’t a neuroscientist) that caffeine speeds up the brain’s energy metabolism while also decreasing blood flow.

This triggers the release of norepinephrine, a chemical responsible for alertness and arousal (not that kind…).

Coffee gives you energy

And just in case you’ve been living under a rock at the bottom of the ocean for your entire life, there is some very recent research showing the positive effects coffee has on energy. As stated above, coffee can dramatically improve your alertness, but also can improve your mental performance (5).

Additionally, if consumed on a regular basis (6) throughout the day, coffee can help to maintain mental and psychomotor performance.

But I’m still not done! Some studies even indicate that coffee can improve physical endurance (7) by 12%, but we will get into that a little later (in the list).

#3 Coffee Reduces the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Apart from giving you energy and helping to burn fat, coffee also has some disease prevention qualities as well (que superhero theme music).

Coffee can help to decrease your relative risk to a number of serious diseases, one of which is Parkinson’s disease.

There are quite a few studies that have found coffee can significantly reduce the risk of Parkinson’s. One study (8) reported that a cup of coffee contributes to a substantial 31% decrease in risk.

coffee and parkinsons disease

Other studies have found even greater risk reduction when controlling for outside factors like smoking and drinking alcohol. One such study reported a 58% (9) reduced risk in both men and women. Another (10) found, when consuming five or more cups per day, men had a 61% reduced risk and women had 60% reduced risk.

Although the exact mechanism for coffee’s Parkinson’s demolishing powers is still unclear, one research study reported that it is most likely related to caffeine (11) and not some other nutrient.

#4 Coffee Protects You Against Alzheimer’s and Dementia

Spoiler alert: coffee improves cognitive performance. Total shocker, I know, but for all of you non-believers, take a seat and prepare for some knowledge.

I’ll dive into aspects like general performance, alertness and memory later, and for now I’ll focus on Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (no big deal).

There have been numerous studies to show that regular coffee consumption is related to decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

One of these studies (12) reported that drinking 3-5 cups a day, from midlife on, can reduce the risk of both Alzheimer’s and dementia by 65%.

A second (13) study found caffeine to be the primary factor in coffee’s preventive qualities. One of the researchers of the study, Dr. Arendash, was quoted saying:

The study also noted that coffee was the major source of caffeine for the research participants.

Other studies have tried to pinpoint exactly what in caffeine is helping to halt the onset of these diseases. A 2014 study (14) found that caffeine blocks various tau receptors (a protein that contributes to brain cell degeneration). Another study found that caffeinated coffee increased GCSF (15) – a substance greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients – levels in the bloodstream.

#5 Coffee Protects Your Liver

Aside from being your brain’s best friend, coffee also has an interesting relationship with some of your other, equally vital organs.

Your liver has benefited from a bromance with coffee ever since they first met. After all, coffee is who your liver calls after a night of drinking, as it has been proven that some of the active ingredients in coffee protect your liver from alcoholic cirrhosis (16).

The results of the Study found that there was an inverse relationship between regular coffee consumption and the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis – i.e. The more coffee your drink, the less is your risk of alcoholic cirrhosis. (this does not mean you can start binge drinking like its going out of fashion, you fool).

Coffee reduces liver disease

The relationship between coffee consumption and liver cirrhosis

Interestingly, another, similar study, showed that coffee can help protect you against nonalcoholic cirrhosis as well (17) – although the causes of N.A cirrhosis are still unknown.

The inverse relationship between coffee consumption and cirrhosis only increases with greater coffee consumption, and over long periods of time – say 40 years – your chances of getting cirrhosis decreases by 55%. However, (wags finger) remember what I said about moderation, but more on that later.

Interestingly enough – this appears to be an exclusive relationship between your liver and some magical effect coffee (not caffeine). The above studies proved that drinking Tea did not have the same protective effects on your liver – meaning the benefits have something to do with something unknown that’s unique to coffee!

#6 Regular Consumption Reduces the Risk of Cancer

Not that Alzheimer’s, Dementia and liver disease aren’t big deals, but holy shit coffee can help prevent cancer!

And not just one or two types of cancers, coffee can help to prevent cancers in many of your body’s vital organs.

According to the CDC, 8% (or approximately 26 million) US adults were diagnosed with some type of cancer in 2014 (18).

One study (19) has shown that coffee consumption is linked to reduced risk of bladder, breast, leukemia, prostate, and pancreatic cancers, with an impressive “but wait, there’s more” list.

Now, let’s dive a little deeper and look at some of the numbers (because, yay numbers!):

Coffee reduces risk of cancer

Regular caffeine consumption has been shown to reduce these types of cancers

  • Drinking 1-4 cups of coffee a day can reduce your risk of colorectal (20) cancer by 15%, and drinking 4-6 cup a day can reduce your risk by 26%
  • Drinking 2 cups a day has been associated with a 43% reduced risk of liver(21) cancer
  • Daily coffee consumption has been associated with a 20% reduced risk of endometrial (22) (lady parts) cancer, with that risk decreasing by 7% with each cup
  • Consuming five or more cups of coffee a day has been linked to a 40% decrease in the risk of glioma (23) (brain tumor)

The above are just the most significant findings, but coffee has been linked, although mildly, to decreased risk of many other types of cancer (which you can see here (24) ).

For the sake of something real journalists call “integrity” I should point out that coffee has also been shown to have a small, yet positive (which isn’t a good thing in this case) relationship with bladder (25) cancer. However, the same study that reported these finding, also reported that this relationship could also be linked to smoking or other dietary habits.

#7 Regular Consumption Is Linked to Longer Life Expectancy

Apart from all the badassery I’ve already mentioned, coffee has been associated with longevity, and decreased overall risk of mortality.

A study (26) conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that drinking one cup a day could lower overall mortality risk by 6%, three cups could reduce risk by 8%, and five cups could reduce risk by 15%.

In addition to general longevity (as if that wasn’t a big deal itself), coffee has been shown to help prevent a myriad of life threatening diseases. Some I’ve already covered, other’s I will cover later in this article; however, since we are talking about life expectancy here is a quick list of them all:

Coffee fights disease

Since the CDC has listed diabetes (27) the 7th largest killer in the good’ol US of A, it is also worth mentioning that coffee can help prevent that as well.

Although most studies agree that habitual (28) coffee consumption can reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the exact percentage is still up for debate. One study reports that drinking three cups a day can reduce your risk by 42% (29), and another study reports that drinking four or more cups a day can reduce risk by only 30% (30).

However, an analysis (31) of other health studies concluded that each additional cup of coffee contributes to a 7% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

#8 Coffee is a HUGE Source of Antioxidants

Forget wine, forget fruit, forget vegetables; coffee is probably one of the largest sources of antioxidants in your diet. If you don’t drink coffee, you better get on that, because you just won’t find a better source of antioxidants out there.

And if you’re looking to find a way to get the freshest taste out of your coffee, consider looking into getting a hand coffee grinder.

Antioxidants in coffee graph

As you can see, the level of antioxidants and coffee far surpasses any other source

It’s no secret that antioxidants are good for you. Antioxidants (32) help to limit a chemical called free radicals, which have been associated with cell degeneration as well as a number of deadly diseases. By increasing the amount of antioxidants in your diet you can limit free radicals in the body, and limit your risk to some of these diseases.

A study of the typical Spanish diet (33) found that, by far, coffee was the largest contributor of antioxidants, making up for a whopping 66% of the antioxidant intake.

Other studies have found similar results. One such study compared the antioxidant contribution of coffee to other dietary items, like fruits, vegetables, wine, grains and tea. It was found that coffee contributes (34) over 600% more antioxidants than the next nearest contributor, fruits.

#9 Coffee Lowers the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke

Did I mentioned that coffee can also protect your heart? No? Well, coffee can also protect your heart!

There has been a myth floating around that coffee can increase the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD).

However, two (35) studies (36) have debunked this myth, showing that there is no causal relationship between coffee consumption and increased risk of CHD. Another study, besides helping to disprove the myth, has also shown that “habitual moderate coffee drinking was associated with a lower risk (37) of CHD in women.”

Coffee lowers heart disease graphic

Long term consumption of coffee has also been shown to reduce, although moderately, the risk of stroke (38). Another study pointed out that drinking about five or six cups of coffee a day is associated with the greatest reduction (39) (36%) in stroke risk, and that coffee also contributes to overall reduction of cardiovascular mortality (a less scary way of saying “heart death”).

However, that same study does point out that drinking more than six cups of coffee a day can result in a loss of these preventative benefits.

#10 Black Coffee Can Prevent Tooth Cavities

Coffee wouldn’t be much of a superhero unless it battled some evil enemy with a weird sounding name. And it does!

Coffee can help to protect your teeth by ruthlessly destroying something called Streptococcus Mutans (AKA – S. Mutans) which sounds, even more, evil).

S. Mutans bacteria is a major cause of dental cavities when their growth goes unchecked. They are hence, ‘the bad guys’.

However, one study (40) has shown that coffee can help to strongly inhibit it’s progress. The study showed that daily coffee consumption can contribute to, at the very least, a 40% reduction.

Teeth being attacked by bacteria

Other studies have found similar results, however, they also found that black coffee(41) produced the most desirable preventative results.

The study pointed out that additives, like sugar or syrup, essentially cancelled out any of the anti-mutans properties of coffee. Which means your dentist will not be impressed when you come strolling in for your appointment, with a venti caramel macchiato in hand.

#11 The Caffeine Hit from Coffee Improves your Physical Performance

It is not just your mental performance that coffee stimulates, but also your physical performance. In much the same way coffee wakes up the brain, coffee can also help jump-start your body.

There have been many studies (42) to show that coffee can enhance overall physical performance.

Using measures like time to exhaustion, running/cycling performance, the perception of fatigue and cycling power, researchers have found that drinking one to two cups of coffee can benefit performance:



Sprinting – Running To Exhaustion 

No Effect

Bench Press -Muscular Endurance

One Rep Weight Increased by 4.4 lbs. (2kg)

Marathon – 8km Run

Blood Lactate Levels Higher After 3 Minutes


Improved Speed, Power & Passing Accuracy. Lower Percieved Fatigue

Cycling – Endurance

Time to Exhaustion Increased

Cycling – Speed and Power

Improved Speed and Power

As mentioned in some of the earlier topics, caffeine provides an energy boost by increasing the release of norepinephrine, also known as adrenaline, into the bloodstream.

This release increases further when caffeine is ingested before exercise (43), which also further increases metabolism, giving the body an even greater jolt of energy.

Another study (44) has measured ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during exercise immediately after ingestion of caffeine and found that caffeine contributes to a 5.6% drop in RPE. The same study also reported that caffeine improved exercise performance by 11.2%.

#12 Reduces Post-Workout Muscle Pain

Have you ever ‘charged yourself up’ with a coffee before hitting the weights? If so, good news: the benefits of coffee don’t end in the weight room.

Not only will coffee make your routine exercise worthy of one of those ultra-intense Gatorade commercials, where everything has a strange green tint, but it will also help with the post-workout pain.

A number of studies – which like to throw around the word “hypoalgesic” – have shown that coffee can reduce the amount of perceived pain (45) and soreness during, and after exercise – in fact, for up to 3 days after exercise! (46)

source – muscle pain after exercising is consistently lower after caffeine consumption (black bars)

The same study also shows that the hit from caffeine may actually help you achieve greater physical fitness by allowing you to achieve a higher number of repetitions during your workout – pump that iron, son!

Maybe you’re wondering now what is really in your cup of coffee that could help curb muscle soreness?

Maybe you’d like to know how your coffee can, essentially, numb your pain?

A group of researchers (47) testing isolated protein fragments (peptides) from coffee on mice found that one peptide had similar effects as morphine – and that explains the lack of pain!

#13 Coffee Improves Blood Circulation

Here is another one that you’ve already heard: coffee can help improve blood flow.

But, you probably didn’t know that, until recently, there wasn’t much scientific proof behind this statement, and that much of the research from before actually argues the opposite.

Let’s start with the opposing view.

A couple of studies, one already mentioned (48) , have found that caffeine can actually decrease the blood flow to the brain. One of these studies reported that caffeine reduces (49) cerebral blood flow by an average of 27%. Incidentally, this is also the reason the feelings of alertness (and sometimes, anxiety) associated with coffee.

Brain blood aside, coffee has recently been shown to increase blood flow throughout the rest of the body.

Coffee and blood flow image

Increased bodily blood flow leads to the following indirect health benefits

One study (50) found that coffee can increase blood pressure in non-habitual coffee drinkers, but noted a lack of increase in habitual coffee drinkers.

Another (51) study, found that specifically coffee, not just caffeine, contributed to a 30% increase in blood flow over a 75 minute period.

Although the research isn’t exact yet, there is evidence that coffee can increase blood flow to most areas of the body, except the attic.

#14 Coffee Boosts your Short and Long Term Memory

None of this extra energy and improved mental performance wouldn’t be much good if your memory couldn’t keep up.

Fortunately, the coffee gods aren’t that cruel, so they packed in some memory-augmenting power along with all the other good stuff.

One study has found that coffee improves memory (52) along with attentiveness and awareness. Other studies have found that caffeine can positively impact short-term (53)recall.

Not only can coffee enhance short-term memory, but it has also been shown to improve long-term memory as well.

A study from the Johns Hopkins University found that caffeine aides the neural process that commits (54) memories to long-term storage, known as “consolidation.”

The researchers even made this short video to help explain the study, for all you non-psychologists out there:

Despite the findings of this Hopkins study, other researchers have reached different conclusions. One such researcher reported (55) that “the ingestion of caffeine does not seem to affect long-term memory.”

However, the same researcher did note that coffee does seem to impact certain types of memory and recall, mostly related to alertness and passive learning.

Regardless of these mixed findings, psychology is complicated, and most of the research on caffeine and memory is fairly new, so it should not be too surprising that initial findings are relatively mixed.

#15 Coffee Reduces Gout in Men

Last but not least, coffee can help curb the risk of gout. In case you aren’t familiar, gout is a condition in which defective metabolism of uric acid can cause arthritis. In most cases, gout (56) affects the big toe, but can also cause swelling and pain in other joints of the leg.

A 2007 study (57) found that coffee, not just caffeine, can significantly decrease the risk of gout in men, by lowering levels of uric acid in the body.

Graph showing gout and relationship with coffee

The relationship between coffee consumption and gout

Drinking six or more cups of coffee a day was associated with a 40% decrease in the risk of gout, but, unfortunately, drinking 5 or fewer cups a day yielded less than a 10% reduction in risk.

Another study, published in 2010, found similar results for women (58).

The study showed that coffee can help reduce the risk of gout in women, although the impact was more significant than that in men, with 4 cups a day yielding almost a 60% reduced risk.

Unfortunately, sugar seems to reverse these benefits.

A study conducted on the relationship between sugar (59) consumption and the risk of gout found a positive link between increased levels of sugar consumption and cases of gout. So, considering this, it’s best to stick with just a black cup and avoid the sugar (once again).

Incase you’re looking to buy a new coffee grinder for your office or home then you should check this post for more information

 This article was originally posted on