10 Scientifically Proven Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Updated: Sep 16, 2020

1. Drinking Coffee Can Improve Energy Levels and Make You Smarter 

  • Coffee can help people feel less tired and increase energy levels because it contains a stimulant called caffeine — the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. (1, 2).

  • After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to your brain. (3).

  • In the brain, caffeine blocks the inhibitory neurotransmitter adenosine.

  • When this happens, the amount of other neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine increases, leading to enhanced firing of neurons. (4, 5).

  • Many controlled studies in humans show that coffee improves various aspects of brain function — including memory, mood, vigilance, energy levels, reaction times and general mental function. (6, 78).

2. Drinking Coffee Can Help You Burn Fat 

  • Caffeine is found in almost every commercial fat-burning supplement — and for good reason. It’s one of the few natural substances proven to aid fat burning.

  • Several studies show that caffeine can boost your metabolic rate by 3–11%. (9, 10).

  • Other studies indicate that caffeine can specifically increase fat burning by as much as 10% in obese individuals and 29% in lean people. (11).

3. Drinking Coffee Can Drastically Improve Physical Performance 

  • Caffeine stimulates your nervous system, signalling fat cells to break down body fat. (12, 13).

  • But it also increases epinephrine (adrenaline) levels in your blood. (14, 15).

  • This is the fight-or-flight hormone, which prepares your body for intense physical exertion.

  • Caffeine breaks down body fat, making free fatty acids available as fuel. (16, 17).

  • Given these effects, it’s unsurprising that caffeine can improve physical performance by 11–12%, on average. (18, 19).

  • Therefore, it makes sense to have a strong cup of coffee about half an hour before you head to the gym. 

4. Coffee Contains Essential Nutrients 

  • Many of the nutrients in coffee beans make their way into the finished brewed coffee.

  • A single cup of coffee contains (20): 

  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 11% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI). 

  • Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5): 6% of the RDI. 

  • Manganese and potassium: 3% of the RDI.

  • Magnesium and niacin (vitamin B3): 2% of the RDI.

  • Though this may not seem like a big deal, most people enjoy several cups per day — allowing these amounts to quickly add up.

5. Drinking Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes 

  • Type 2 diabetes is a major health problem, currently affecting millions of people worldwide.

  • It’s characterised by elevated blood sugar levels caused by insulin resistance or a reduced ability to secrete insulin.

  • For some reason, coffee drinkers have a significantly reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

  • Studies observe that people who drink the most coffee have a 23–50% lower risk of getting this disease. One study showed a reduction as high as 67%. (21, 22, 23, 24, 25).

  • According to a large review of 18 studies in a total of 457,922 people, each daily cup of coffee was associated with a 7% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes. (26).

6. Drinking Coffee May Protect You From Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia 

  • Alzheimer's disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease and the leading cause of dementia worldwide.

  • This condition usually affects people over 65, and there is no known cure.

  • However, there are several things you can do to prevent the disease from occurring in the first place.

  • This includes the usual suspects like eating healthy and exercising, but drinking coffee may be incredibly effective as well.

  • Several studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 65% lower risk of Alzheimer's disease. (27, 28).

7. Drinking Coffee May Lower Your Risk of Parkinson's 

  • Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative condition, right behind Alzheimer's.

  • It’s caused by the death of dopamine-generating neurons in your brain.

  • As with Alzheimer's, there is no known cure, which makes it that much more important to focus on prevention.

  • Studies show that coffee drinkers have a much lower risk of Parkinson's disease, with a risk reduction ranging from 32–60%. (29, 30, 31, 32).

  • In this case, the caffeine itself appears to be beneficial, as people who drink decaf don't have a lower risk of Parkinson's. (33).

8. Drinking Coffee May Protect Your Liver 

  • Your liver is an amazing organ that carries out hundreds of important functions.

  • Several common diseases primarily affect the liver, including hepatitis, fatty liver disease and many others.

  • Many of these conditions can lead to cirrhosis, in which your liver is largely replaced by scar tissue.

  • Interestingly, coffee may protect against cirrhosis — people who drink 4 or more cups per day have up to an 80% lower risk. (34, 3536).

9. Drinking Coffee Can Fight Depression and Make You Happier

  • Depression is a serious mental disorder that causes a significantly reduced quality of life.

  • It’s very common, as about 4.1% of people in the US currently meet the criteria for clinical depression.

  • In a Harvard study published in 2011, women who drank 4 or more cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of becoming depressed. (37).

  • Another study in 208,424 individuals found that those who drank 4 or more cups per day were 53% less likely to die by suicide. (38).

10. Drinking Coffee May Lower Risk of Certain Types of Cancer 

  • Cancer is one of the world's leading causes of death. It is characterised by uncontrolled cell growth in your body.

  • Coffee appears to be protective against two types of cancer: liver and colorectal cancer.

  • Liver cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world, while colorectal cancer ranks fourth. (39).

  • Studies show that coffee drinkers have up to a 40% lower risk of liver cancer. (40, 41).

  • Similarly, one study in 489,706 people found that those who drank 4–5 cups of coffee per day had a 15% lower risk of colorectal cancer. (42).