If you’re a regular Healthier Talk reader, I probably don’t need to tell you I’m a huge coffee fan. After all I sing its praises every chance I get.
I’d like to claim I became so devoted to java because of its many health benefits. But the truth is I had already fallen head over heels for coffee before I learned how good it was for me.
I will admit, however, that the seemingly endless parade of positive news about coffee has made me even more devoted. In fact, I keep a file of new coffee research at the ready for whenever a naysayer tries to convince me my coffee habit is bad for me.
And I just added a study to the stack. Because researchers say, your daily coffee habit could literally be protecting your DNA.
I’ll have more on that research in just a moment. But first let’s take a quick look at a few of the biggest benefits your cup of joe can deliver.
Coffee benefits from brain boosting to blood sugar balancing
It turns out if you’re a coffee fan like I am you could be protecting your noodle and boosting your brain power at the same time.
In one study, downing five cups of coffee a day was linked to a 65 percent lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.1 In another, scientists found three cups of java juice daily appeared to put the brakes on cognitive decline.2
And researchers from Johns Hopkins University confirmed what many of us suspected all along. Caffeine is a memory booster. They found it can help us store our long term memories.3
But the coffee benefits don’t end there. Your favorite breakfast beverage could also slice your colon cancer risk in half!
According to a recent study, drinking just two and half cups of coffee a day—or what I like to call my morning dose—could reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by up to 50 percent.4
And then there are the potential blood sugar benefits.
Experts say there appears to be a link between drinking coffee and a lower risk for type 2 diabetes. And according to a study published in the journal Diabetes Care, drinking four or more cups could reduce your risk for diabetes by 50 percent or more.5
Especially when combined with a good old healthy lower carb diet and some regular exercise. A fact confirmed by another decade long study which found that coffee drinkers were about half as likely to develop the disease.6
Coffee benefits extend all the way to your DNA
Recently I stumbled across a study that provided yet one more exciting item for me to add to my growing list of coffee benefits. According to the research published in the European Journal of Nutrition, less than four cups of coffee a day could significantly reduce damage to your DNA.7
We all have some DNA breakage caused by highly reactive molecules released during normal metabolism. Experts say a few of these damaging molecules are nothing to worry about, but in excess, they can be a problem
That’s were coffee comes in.
Researchers gave a group of male volunteers either 750 ml of coffee or 750 ml of water a day for four weeks. At the start of the four weeks, everyone’s DNA damage was about equal. But at the end of the four weeks, the java drinkers had 27 percent less DNA breakage than the guys in the control group.
Experts say the same thing that makes your cup of coffee so delicious, the roasting of those beautiful beans, is also what makes them so good at protecting your DNA. It turns out the roasting process produces bioactive compounds with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
So go ahead and indulge, there are plenty of coffee benefits to be had. But keep in mind that sugary sweet coffee “drinks” don’t count. Dumping a lot of syrup, sugar, or even non-dairy creamer into your java could quickly undo its benefits.
Choose dark roast to get the most coffee benefits. Drinking it black is best. But if you aren’t ready for the full high test yet go ahead and indulge in a splash of real cream.
1. “Midlife coffee and tea drinking and the risk of late-life dementia: a population-based CAIDE study,” J Alzheimers Dis. 2009;16(1):85-91
2. High Blood Caffeine Levels in MCI Linked to Lack of Progression to Dementia,” Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 30 (2012) 559–572
3. “Post-study caffeine administration enhances memory consolidation in humans,” Nature Neuroscience 17, 201–203 (2014)
4. “Coffee Consumption and the Risk of Colorectal Cancer,” April 2016, Volume 25, Issue 4
5. “Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes,” Diabetes Care, 2006 Feb; 29(2): 398-403
6. “The evaluation of inflammatory and oxidative stress biomarkers on coffee–diabetes association: results from the 10-year follow-up of the ATTICA Study (2002–2012),” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 69, 1220-1225, November 2015
7. “Consumption of a dark roast coffee decreases the level of spontaneous DNA strand breaks: a randomized controlled trial,” Eur J Nutr. 2015 Feb;54(1):149-56