Your morning cup of coffee could — quite literally — be a lifesaver.
That’s according to two new studies that tie higher coffee consumption to a lower risk of death.
The first study, published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, concluded that those who drank the most coffee — compared with those who skip the java — have a lower risk of death.
The study used data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which includes information from more than 520,000 men and women in 10 European countries.
Researchers who produced the second study, which was also published today in the same journal, noted that higher coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk for death in whites and non-white populations.
Previously, there had been limited data on how coffee affected non-white populations. Data used in the research came from a cohort of more than 185,000 Japanese-Americans, African-Americans, Latinos, and whites.
The buzz on coffee benefits
Whether you drink decaf, regular, or a mix of the two, you receive the same advantages.
About 75 percent of American adults drink coffee. About 50 percent have it on a daily basis.
Coffee includes bioactive compounds and polyphenols that have antioxidant properties.
Coffee is also linked to reduced insulin resistance, inflammation, and biomarkers of liver function. Of course, what we add to it can have unhealthy impacts. (Cream and sugar, anyone?)
“Coffee is not a panacea, however it is just one part of a healthy plant-based diet,” Sharon Palmer, RDN, author of “Plant-Powered for Life,” explained.
“There’s no need to feel guilty about your coffee obsession. However, adding high amounts of creams, syrups, and sugars quickly turns a healthful beverage into a decadent splurge,” she told Healthline.
How much java do you have to drink to get the most health perks?
People who down three or more cups of coffee per day seemed to receive the most benefit when it came to lowering the risk of death. The scientists found that was especially true for digestive tract and circulatory diseases.
Neil Murphy, PhD, one of the researchers on the European study and an epidemiologist with the World Health Organization (WHO), touted his research because it gives insights into health effects of coffee on European populations.
On the other hand, people shouldn’t deduce that drinking coffee means you’ll be healthier, because high coffee consumption is linked to negative health behaviors such as smoking.
How much is too much?
In an accompanying editorial, researchers from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health wrote that recommending coffee intake to decrease the chances of death would be premature.
However, they said, three to five cups per day, or up to 400 milligrams of caffeine, is not tied to adverse effects.
Despite the positive results, Murphy told Healthline that the researchers do not want to recommend that people drink more or less coffee.
His research also did not look into how much coffee could be linked to adverse health consequences.
“Our results suggest that moderate coffee drinking [up to about three cups per day] is not harmful to your health, and that incorporating coffee into your diet could have health benefits,” he said.
Palmer said that more recent research on coffee has shown benefits of about three to even six cups per day.
Advantages include reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, prostate and liver cancer, and Parkinson’s disease.
“It is generally recommended to cap coffee intake to no more than six cups per day to keep caffeine intake in check,” she explained.
Caffeine can have negative effects such as headaches, insomnia, restlessness, gastrointestinal distress, and more.
“Knowing your limits is important,” she said.