5 Health Benefits of Black Coffee

Coffee has some surprising health benefits.
Coffee has some surprising health benefits. / iprogressman/iStock via Getty Images

According to the National Coffee Association, 62 percent of Americans drink coffee at least once daily. The average coffee fan drinks an average of three cups. While that may lead to some jitters or restlessness, the news is mostly positive: Coffee has lots of health benefits. (Presuming you’re not loading it with sugar, anyway.)

Like everything, coffee and caffeine are best enjoyed in moderation. A few cups daily can provide health benefits, but too much can lead to side effects like nervousness without any increase in its protective effects. Pregnant women and children are also prone to have adverse effects from coffee.

You should also bear in mind that how coffee is prepared can make a difference, too. Unfiltered coffee, for example, can allow the oily diterpenes to pass, which might raise “bad” LDL cholesterol. Filtered coffee, like that from a coffeemaker or pod machine, is better.

Whether you get your fix from a drip machine, Starbucks, or a Keurig, check out some of the upsides to sipping black coffee.

1. Coffee is loaded with antioxidants.

Coffee beans might be the average person’s best source of antioxidants, which are believed to protect cells from aging. That’s because these natural compounds resist free radicals, or body molecules that can prompt oxidative stress and subsequently cell damage. (While fruit, vegetables, and coffee are all good sources of antioxidants, there’s little evidence that supplements have the same beneficial effect.)

2. Coffee can lower your risk of serious disease.

Numerous studies have explored the link between coffee ingestion and a lowered rate of chronic illness or disease. Regular drinkers appear to have a lowered risk of Type 2 diabetes as well as liver and colorectal cancers.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the phytochemicals in coffee might reduce cancer cell development by slowing cell growth. Caffeine itself can also push carcinogens through the digestive tract faster; phenolic acids can boost anti-inflammatory defenses. Overall, one cup of coffee daily might reduce overall mortality rate by 3 to 4 percent. Drinking three or more cups could reduce the risk of early death by as much as 16 percent.

3. Coffee might stave off cognitive decline.

Coffee is good for a productivity boost in the moment, but it might offer long-term cognitive benefits, too. Studies have demonstrated that cognitive decline was lower in people who consumed it—in one meta-analysis by up to 16 percent. Additionally, caffeine consumers had lowered risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

4. Coffee could help protect your heart.

Coffee consumption has been linked to a 21 percent reduced risk of heart disease and a 20 percent lower risk of stroke when four or more cups were consumed daily. Overall, three cups provided a 21 percent decrease in the risk of cardiovascular disease.

5. Coffee may ease symptoms of depression.

While anyone experiencing mental health challenges should seek out professional help, there’s no question diet and exercise can play a role in your emotional state. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in coffee may have positive neurological effects. One study observed that those drinking four cups daily were 10 percent less likely to report feeling depressed.