If you’re constantly resisting down the urge to hit your bloodstream with caffeine, relax. It’s really okay to get a steady stream of java—so long as you’re stopping at a reasonable time before bed (typically 2 p.m., since coffee has a half-life of 8-10 hours), not swallowing a pot a day, and avoiding syrups and artificial sweeteners (check out these 15 ultra-healthy add-ins instead). And we’re not just saying so because the energy jolt is just that good. Coffee also has a slew of health benefits.
We’ve compiled a list of, arguably, the 7 best science-backed reasons you should have your coffee—and drink it, too.
1. Coffee reduces disease-causing inflammation
We’re not talking about the inflammation caused by a killer workout, we mean the type of disease-causing inflammation that’s spurred and worsened by old age. Caffeine has an amazing influence on your immune system—so much in fact that nearly all the other health benefits below could be explained by its ability to fight and ward off disease (like type 2 diabetes and heart disease), according to research published in Nature Medicine. In short, caffeine blocks certain receptors on brain cells, which is how coffee has its stimulating “wake-up” effect. In impeding these receptors, caffeine also blocks pathways that product inflammatory molecules, the researchers found. So, as you age, don’t be wary of coffee. In this study, the older men and women who drank more caffeine had fewer inflammatory molecules; they also had lower blood pressure and more flexible arteries, more relatives who lived past age 90, and were healthier overall.
2. Promotes mental sharpness
You may not be entirely powerless to prevent mental decline, but, according to one study, coffee may be able to bolster your brain. Researchers discovered participants who drank 3 to 5 cups of coffee per day had about a 65% decreased chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia later on in life.
3. Protect your ticker
Anybody who’s serious about health knows the importance of a healthy cardiovascular system. What you may not know is by simply drinking 1 to 2 cups of coffee per day, you could significantly reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease-related death. According to a Japanese study of more than 76,000 participants, men who hit this sweet spot (1-2 cups per day) consuming one to two cups of coffee daily reduced their risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease by as much as 38%. Of course, this still doesn’t excuse you from doing actual cardio. (And if you really hate it that much, check out 8 cardio workouts for the guy who hates cardio.)
4. Ward off the grim reaper
Want to lower your risk of death? A National Institutes of Health – AARP Diet and Health study of more than 400,000 people revealed that drinking coffee might be the answer. Between 1995 and 2008, male participants drinking even just one daily cup reduced their risk of death by 6%. Drinking either 2-3 cups or 6+ cups reduced the risk by 10% during the timeframe of the study. The greatest reduction of death risk was 12% in the group drinking 4-5 cups.
5. Build your diabetes defense
An alarming 11.8% of American men over the age of 20 have diabetes. Needless to say, it’s a growing concern and one receiving a great deal of attention in the medical community. Between 1986 and 1998, Harvard researchers tracked the coffee consumption and occurrence of type-2 diabetes of more than 40,000 men. They discovered that long-term coffee drinkers had a significantly reduced risk of developing type-2 diabetes and statistics indicated the risk decreased the more they drank. Just remember to limit your sugar!
6. Limit your everyday pain
Are you in pain during the course of a typical workday? It’s not that unusual. But, what is surprising is the degree to which many people feel rejuvenated following a coffee break—there’s a reason why. Norwegian researchers observed 48 people performing office work and found those who consumed coffee only declared a pain-intensity level of 41, whereas participants who didn’t drink any coffee reported having a score of 55.
7. Promote weight loss
If your focus is weight loss, green coffee extract could be an effective aid. Following a 22-week study of 16 overweight adults, researchers discovered participants given green coffee bean extract had undergone significant weight loss with 37.5% of them transitioning from being at a pre-obesity weight to a normal weight range. If you’re battling the bulge, consider complementing your workouts by looking at the green bean capsule aisle of your local health nutrition store.