Health Benefits of Coffee



For many of us a strong coffee has become a crucial part of our daily routines. Some may accredit their morning coffee with being a means of relaxation, others as an aid to wake them up and get them going, and some feel that their coffee intake is more of an addiction than a habit. Whilst the coffee bean can be eaten whole or added to foods as an ingredient, the most popular method of consumption is for it to be ground, filtered and drank hot[1].

Jump to 10 Health Benefits of Coffee

Health Benefits of Coffee 

Coffee is mostly known for its energising caffeine properties.

However, the main health properties of coffee are due to its high quantity of chlorogenic acids, polyphenols and hydrocinnamic acids, which act as phytonutrients and antioxidants[7].

Coffee has been a widely studied topic within pharmaceutical, clinical and nutritional research, to assess coffee’s health attributes and its potential application for reducing the prevalence of common illnesses. Research has credited regular consumption of coffee to reducing several risk factors in diseases such as degenerative brain disease and memory loss[8], central nervous system disorders[9], gallbladder disease[10] and Parkinson's disease[11], as well as improving liver health[12), improving glucose balance and type 2 diabetes control[13], reducing mild depression[14] and improvements in body composition[15].

There is also a wealth of research to suggest that coffee consumption also reduces the risk of strokes and heart disease[17, 18].

10 Health Benefits of Coffee 

1. Coffee reduces feelings of fatigue.[34]    

One of the main reasons why most of us drink coffee is to get that boost of energy in the mornings. Placebo-based research suggests that 100mg of caffeine improves alertness, overall mood as well as reduces headaches and tiredness.[35] 

2. Coffee improves physical performance

Coffee consumption has been widely researched as a beneficial ergogenic aid[19], with evidence that coffee can support athletes to train harder and for longer. This is mainly due to caffeine stimulating the brain, contributing to enhanced concentration, reduction of actual and perceived muscular fatigue, increasing exercise intensity and duration, and faster reaction times[20] in both endurance and higher intensity exercise. Studies conclude that a moderate caffeine intake via a black coffee can enhance performance by 12%[21, 22].

 3. Coffee may aid weight loss through boosting metabolic rates

In one study, the metabolic changes in male athletes were assessed derived from their coffee intake. The data presented that fat burning was increased by 29%, which was due to an increased metabolic response and the inhibition of glucose and carbohydrates[23]

4. Coffee may support your heart health

Many studies[36] look into coffee benefits for heart and vascular systems. One of the recent studies showed that drinking up to three cups of coffee per day is associated with a lower risk of stroke and fatal heart disease.[37]

5. Coffee may help with gout

In 2007 approximately 50k men took part in a study that was looking at the link between coffee, caffeine and gout risk. Study showed that men who drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day had a 40% lower chance of developing gout. 

A 2007 study investigated the potential link between coffee intake and gout risk among nearly 46,000 men. The authors found that men who drank four to five cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower relative risk of gout compared to men who weren’t coffee drinkers.[38]

6. Coffee and cancer

A number of studies showed a link in-between coffee consumption the reduction of some cancers such as colon, liver, endometrial and pancreatic cancers[16]

7. Coffee can improve your mood

As well as improving attention and alertness, studies have shown that drinking one cup of coffee (75mg of caffeine) every 4 hours have shown sustained improvement of mood throughout the day.[39] Experts says that mood can be boosted by the caffeine as it acts as a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, which in turn affects mood and emotion.[40]

8. Coffee and life longevity

A multitude of studies have suggested that the consumption of caffeine can aid life expectancy. The results showed that moderate coffee drinking (for example 2-4 cups per day) was associated with reduced all-cause and cause-specific morality, compared to no coffee consumption.[41]

9. Coffee may help to process glucose better

Most epidemiological and research data supports statements that long-term consumption of coffee is associated with lower risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.[42] It is believed that coffee supports the processing of glucose in the body with interventions on glucose homeostasis, antioxidant activity, and inflammatory biomarkers. [42]

10. Coffee may decrease risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Recently, 3 out of 5 studies have supported beliefs that caffeine consumption has been favourable in the effects of cognitive decline. A CAIDE study reported that drinking 3-5 cups of coffee per day was associated with lower changes of developing dementia and/or Alzheimer’s disease.[43]

Health benefits of decaffeinated coffee

Decaf coffee has significantly lower amounts of caffeine than regular coffee and is similar to regular coffee in terms of antioxidative properties.[44] Antioxidants may help to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. Decaf coffee also contains nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and niacin.

A 2017 meta-analysis showed that people drinking 4-6 cups of decaffeinated coffee a day were showing lowered risks of metabolic syndrome, as well as type 2 diabetes, similar to caffeinated coffee.[45]

According to another study[46], decaffeinated coffee may improve alertness and performance.

Decaf coffee also shown to lower gout risk, suggesting that something other than caffeine is responsible for the effect on gout.[38]

Whilst more research dedicated specifically to decaffeinated coffee is required, several studies showed that decaffeinated coffee is able to produce results similar to regular coffee, that suggests that caffeine presence doesn’t make a difference in certain cases.

Where does coffee come from?

Over 50 countries grow coffee across the globe (for information regarding locations visit). Depending on the variety, it will take approximately 3.5 to 4 years for the newly planted coffee tree to produce fruit. The ripened fruit, named the cherry, is harvested when it turns a deep red colour. Once the cherry is picked, the processing must be quickly undertaken to prevent spoilage and rancidity. The coffee bean – which is actually a seed and is found within the cherry (similar to that of the stone of a fruit cherry) – is removed, washed and dried before being dehulled and sorted. Once processed the coffee bean is ready to be exported for commercial and domestic use. For the complete coffee process visit.

What is in coffee?

Although caffeine has received the most research, coffee contains a potent mixture of antioxidants, naturally occurring caffeine, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, alkaloids and phenolic compounds[2]. The composition of coffee varies with the source of coffee bean as well as with the method of preparation (i.e. filtration methods, boiling, steeping or brewing under pressure).

Table 1 – Nutrient content in regular serving size (350ml) black Americano coffee[3]

Nutrient Amount
Energy 2.4 kcal
Carbohydrate
of which sugar
0
0
Fat 0
Protein 0.3g
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 0.2mg
Niacin (vitamin B3) 0.5mg
Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) 0.6mg
Potassium 116mg
Manganese 0.1mg
Magnesium 7.1mg

Brief history of coffee

Coffee consumption dates back to the Galla tribe 1000 AD where the stimulatory effect of the coffee bean was identified and the energy-boosting properties led to the first commercial coffee plantation by Arab land-owners. The coffee was known as ‘Qahwa’, meaning ‘preventer of sleep’[4].

From the 15th century to the present day, the consumption of coffee has continued to grow in popularity across the globe, being the second highest globally-traded commodity after oil[5]. Coffee is reportedly the second most commonly consumed beverage after water; it’s estimated that 2.25 billion cups of coffee are drank on a daily basis across the globe, with 400 million cups in the US and 55 million cups drank in the UK daily[6]. Coffee also accounts for over 80% of all caffeine consumption in those aged 18 and over, followed by tea and caffeinated soft drinks, with the majority consumed prior to or during breakfast[6].

Stimulatory effects

Caffeine is classified as a methylated xanthine; this is a purine molecule that a number of other stimulants are also derived from. The stimulatory effects felt from caffeine are due in part to caffeine's ability to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once the caffeine is within the neural membrane it binds to the adenosine receptors (AR) as the structure of caffeine is similar to that of adenosine. Through the day adenosine binds to receptors that calm the body and enhance sleep, yet when caffeine binds to the AR instead, it results in the feeling of alertness and reduces perceived fatigue. This is what caffeine’s psychoactive and stimulatory properties are accredited to and gives it nootropic effects[23].

Keeping coffee standards high

Within the UK, the British Coffee Association (BCA) represents UK coffee in developing and maintaining a favourable environment in all aspects of the coffee industry and culture. The BCA does this by representing coffee industry regulators, politicians, media and the public. This includes representing the industry on technical issues to regulators and governments. For more information on the BCA, click here.

The BCA actively promotes the sustainability of coffee production to minimise environmental impacts, support the farmers and growers and innovate change, such as introducing the use of biodegradable materials to reduce waste and aid recycling.

Intake guidelines

Coffee and caffeine are both certified as safe by the European Union and the US FDA[24, 25]. However, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) does not recommend adults consume over 400mg of caffeine per day[24]. This recommendation is variable with some individuals having a particularly high or low tolerance[24, 26]. One cup of coffee can raise caffeine levels in the body to 5mg/l, and adverse effects are usually only identified in doses that exceed 180mg/l[26]. Whilst moderate coffee consumption has been regarded as safe during pregnancy, it is still advisable not to exceed 300mg per day.

Health hazards of coffee

Whilst the benefits of coffee consumption are evident, there are potential side effects such as nervousness, insomnia, increased need to urinate and heart palpitations in some individuals who are particularly sensitive to caffeine or those who have ingested large quantities[27]. There is also a body of research that has indicated that individuals with heart disease, or those susceptible to heart disease, may want to limit coffee intake due to findings that drinking large quantities (>6 cups per day) of unfiltered coffee can increase blood levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol and homocysteine; both are linked to higher incidence of the disease[28].

The main contributor to the side effects is the caffeine content; this can be decreased by increasing the volume of water to dilute it, by reducing the amount of coffee or using a decaffeinated blend. However, decaf coffee has higher acidity (compared to caffeinated coffee) and can increase heartburn and gastric reflux and exasperate existing bowel conditions (such as Crohn's, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome) and urinary tract infections[27, 29]. Both caffeinated and decaf coffee, when drunk to excess, can impair the uptake of some minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc which could potentially increase the risk of anaemia, bone demineralisation and nutrient deficiency in those at risk[30].

Concerns also arise surrounding the addictive nature of caffeine. This is due to the fact that high coffee and caffeine intake may stimulate brain cells to produce more adenosine receptors to compensate for the ones blocked by caffeine[31]. As a result, the higher number of receptors require more caffeine to achieve the same effect, increasing caffeine tolerance. If coffee consumption is suddenly cut down or stopped, the brain will have free receptors with nothing to bind to, which can result in withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, headaches and tiredness which can last for a few days[30]. 

So what about decaf coffee?

Coffee is naturally caffeinated, and therefore in order to be decaf’, it must go through a process of decaffeination. Solvents and water are used to extract the caffeine content. Whilst some of the antioxidant properties will also be lost during the process, antioxidants will still be present along with a small amount of caffeine. Therefore decaffeinated coffee is not entirely caffeine-free[31].

How much caffeine is in coffee?

Caffeine is found in a wide variety of foods and beverages. The table below compares the caffeine content in commonly consumed beverages and foods[32, 33], as well as in Coffee Huel Powder.

Table 2 – Caffeine content (mg) in Coffee Huel Powder compared to commonly available foods and beverages

Food or beverage Amount of caffeine per
100mg or 100ml
Amount (mg) of caffeine
per serving
Americano (fresh ground coffee) 70-120mg/100ml 245-420mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Mocha 25-54mg/100ml 88-189mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Iced coffee 45-50mg/100ml 158-175mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Instant coffee 27-70mg/100ml 88-245mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Energy drinks 32-100mg/100ml 80-220mg per 250ml
(standard can)
Espresso 120-160mg/100ml 67-90mg per 56ml
(standard espresso cup)
Green tea 0.2mg/100ml 7mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Black tea 11-19mg/100ml 26-42 mg per 230ml
(regular tea cup size)
Decaf instant coffee 0.2mg/100ml 7mg per 350ml
(regular coffee shop-size)
Milk chocolate 20mg/100g 9mg
per 50g serving
Dark chocolate 43mg/100g 21mg
per 50g serving
Cola 0.9mg/100ml 32mg per 330ml
(standard cola can)
Diet / sugar-free cola 1.4mg/100ml 47 mg per 330ml
(standard cola can)
Coffee Huel Powder 88mg/100g powder (approx.) 44mg (1 scoop)
88mg (2 scoops)
132mg (3 scoops)
176mg (4 scoops)

Summary

Regular coffee consumption can provide a number of health benefits, improve athletic performance, benefit body composition and provide stimulatory and nootropic effects. Whilst individual tolerances vary, it is not recommended to exceed 400mg of caffeine per day in adults. For those who are highly sensitive, consume coffee with caution.

For more coffee information and facts visit.

References

  1. International Coffee Organization The State of the Global Coffee Trade. Date Accessed: 29/10/19. [Available from: http://www.ico.org/monthly_coffee_trade_stats.asp]
  2. Teixeira J, et al. Hydroxycinnamic acid antioxidants: an electrochemical overview. BioMed research international. 2013; 2013:251754-.
  3. Food Standard Agency, Public Health England, McCance and Widdowson’s The Composition of Foods, 7th, Cambridge, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2014
  4. National Coffee Association USA. The History of Coffee. Date Accessed: 29/10/2019. [Available from: http://www.ncausa.org/about-coffee/history-of-coffee]
  5. Coffee: World Markets and Trade. In: Service FA, editor.: United States Department of Agriculture; 2018.
  6. BCA. The Effect of Coffee Consumption Motivation on the Future Coffee Consumption Intentions. 2018; 8(4): 129-144.
  7. Brezová V, et al. Coffee as a source of antioxidants: An EPR Study - Food Chemistry 2009; 114(3): 859-868.
  8. Grosso G, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and health outcomes: an umbrella review. An Rev Nutr. 2017; 37: 131-156.
  9. Kolahdouzan M, et al. The neuroprotective effects of caffeine in neurodegenerative diseases. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics. 2017; 23(4):272-90.
  10. Ruhl CE, et al. Association of coffee consumption with gallbladder disease. American journal of epidemiology. 2000; 152(11):1034-8.
  11. Kumar PM, et al. Differential effect of caffeine intake in subjects with genetic susceptibility to Parkinson’s Disease. Scientific Reports. 2015; 5:15492.
  12. Coffee consumption and the liver – the potential health benefits. British Liver Trust; 2016.
  13. Van Dam R, et al. Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. 2016; 124(2): 13-17.
  14. Lucas M, et al. Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women. Archives of internal medicine. 2011; 171(17):1571-8.
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  16. Yu X, et al. Coffee consumption and risk of cancers: a meta-analysis of cohort studies. BMC Cancer. 2011; 11(1):96.
  17. Godos J, et al. Coffee components and cardiovascular risk. Beneficial and detrimental effects. Int J Food Sci & Nut. 2014; 65(8): 925-936.
  18. Sartipy U, et al. Predicting survival in heart failure: validation of the MAGGIC heart failure risk score in 51,043 patients from the Swedish heart failure registry. Euro J Heart Failure. 2013; 16(2): 173-179.
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  20. Spriet L, Nutritional and Environmental Influences on Athlete Health and Performance. 2018; 12(1): 1-3.
  21. Peeling P, et al. Evidence-Based Supplements for the Enhancement of Athletic Performance. Int J Sports Nut & Exercise Metabol. 2018; 20: 1-10.
  22. Astorino T, et al. Efficacy of acute caffeine ingestion for short-term high-intensity exercise performance: a systematic review. J Strength & Conditioning Res. 2010; 24(1): 257-265.
  23. Bracco D, et al. Effects of caffeine on energy metabolism, heart rate, and methylxanthine metabolism in lean and obese women. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism. 1995; 269(4):E671-E8.
  24. EFSA. EFSA Explains Risk Assessment: Caffeine. 2015.
  25. FDA. Substances Generally Recognized as Safe: Caffeine. 2018; 21(3).
  26. EFSA. Scientific opinion on the safety of caffeine. EFSA J. 2015; 13(5): 41-62.
  27. Shateri Z, et al. Coffee Consumption and Coronary Heart Diseases: A Mini-Review. J Clin Nutr Diet. 2016.
  28. Jee SH, et al. Coffee consumption and serum lipids: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials. American journal of epidemiology. 2001; 153(4):353-62.
  29. Wolde T. Effects of caffeine on health and nutrition. Food Sci & Qual Manag. 2014; 30.
  30. Juliano LM, et al. A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features. Psychopharmacology. 2004; 176(1):1-29.
  31. ScienceDaily. Decaffeinated Coffee Is Not Caffeine-free, Experts Say. Date Accessed: 29/10/19. [Available from: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/10/061012185602.htm]
  32. Caffeine Informer The Complete Guide to Starbucks Caffeine. Date Accessed: 03/04/19. [Available from: https://www.caffeineinformer.com/the-complete-guide-to-starbucks-caffeine]
  33. Center for Science in the Public Interest. Caffeine Chart. Date Accessed: 29/10/19. [Available from: https://cspinet.org/eating-healthy/ingredients-of-concern/caffeine-chart]
  34. MUMFORD, P., TRIBBY, A., POOLE, C., DALBO, V., SCANLAN, A., MOON, J., ROBERTS, M. and YOUNG, K., 2016. Effect of Caffeine on Golf Performance and Fatigue during a Competitive Tournament.
  35. Haskell-Ramsay, C., Jackson, P., Forster, J., Dodd, F., Bowerbank, S. and Kennedy, D., 2018. The Acute Effects of Caffeinated Black Coffee on Cognition and Mood in Healthy Young and Older Adults.
  36. Stevens, L., Linstead, E., Hall, J. and Kao, D., 2021. Association Between Coffee Intake and Incident Heart Failure Risk. [online] Circulation: Heart Failure. Available at: <https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/CIRCHEARTFAILURE.119.006799> 
  37. European Society of Cardiology, 2021. [online] Available at:<https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210830075619.html> 

  38. Choi, H., Willett, W. and Curhan, G., 2016. Coffee consumption and risk of incident gout in men: A prospective study.

  39. Coffeeandhealth.org. Coffee, caffeine, mood and emotion. [online] Available at: <https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-info/mental-performance-coffee-caffeine-mood-and-emotion> 

  40. Verywell Mind. 2021. Caffeine: Everything You’ve Been Afraid to Ask. [online] Available at: <https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-the-effects-of-caffeine-on-the-brain-21842#:~:text=Because%20caffeine%20acts%20as%20a,increasing%20excitability%20in%20the%20brain> 

  41. Kim, Y., Je, Y. and Giovannucci, E., 2019. Coffee consumption and all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a meta-analysis by potential modifiers.

  42. Rebelo, I. and Casal, S., 2017. Coffee: A Dietary Intervention on Type 2 Diabetes?.

  43. Eskelinen, M. and Kivipelto, M., 2010. Caffeine as a Protective Factor in Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease.

  44. Buscemi, S., Batsis, J., Arcoleo, G. and Verga, S., 2010. Coffee and endothelial function: a battle between caffeine and antioxidants?.

  45. Wong, T., Wong, C., Zhang, X., Zhou, Y., Xu, J., Yuen, K., Wan, J. and Louie, J., 2021. The Association Between Coffee Consumption and Metabolic Syndrome in Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.

  46. Haskell-Ramsay, C., Jackson, P., Forster, J., Dodd, F., Bowerbank, S. and Kennedy, D., 2018. The Acute Effects of Caffeinated Black Coffee on Cognition and Mood in Healthy Young and Older Adults.

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