Health benefits and risks of drinking coffee

By Joseph Nordqvist| Las updated Thu 14 December 2017

Benefits | Nutrition | Risks

A cup of coffee in the morning may provide more than just an energy boost.

Health benefits, say some researchers, may range from helping prevent diabetes to lowering the risk of liver disease.With over 400 billion cups of coffee thought to be consumed every year, coffee is one of the world's most popular drinks. But is it really healthful, or are there also risks?

Benefits

The potential health benefits associated with drinking coffee include protecting against type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, liver disease, liver cancer, and promoting a healthy heart.

Coffee and diabetes

Coffee may help protect against type 2 diabetes. Researchers at UCLA identified that drinking coffee increases plasma levels of the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG controls the biological activity of the body's sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Nutrition

Regular black coffee (without milk or cream) has a very low calorie count. A typical cup of black coffee only contains around 2 calories. However, if you add sugar and milk, the calorie count can shoot up.

Antioxidants

Coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the U.S., according to researchers at the University of Scranton. Joe Vinson, Ph.D., lead author of the study, said that "Americans get more of their antioxidants from coffee than any other dietary source. Nothing else comes close." The authors of the study emphasize moderation, stating that only one or two cups a day appear to be beneficial.

Risks

Drinking too much coffee can result in some very unpleasant adverse effects.

According to a study by researchers at the University of Oklahoma, "caffeine can cause anxiety symptoms in normal individuals, especially in vulnerable patients, like those with pre-existing anxiety disorders."13 In addition, "caffeine use is also associated with symptoms of depression due to either a self-medication theory, or a theory that caffeine itself causes changes in mood." Women who plan on becoming pregnant should be cautious. Researchers from the University of Nevada School of Medicine reported in the British Journal of Pharmacology that regular coffee may reduce a woman's chances of becoming pregnant.