Could your daily cup of coffee double as a health drink? A percolation of recent research reveals that the health benefits of coffee are double-espresso-style strong. But before you go on a brew binge, the Mayo Clinic recommends keeping daily consumption to around 400 milligrams, which equates to about four cups of coffee. And to truly ensure your caffeinated drink is good to the last drop, avoid artificial sweeteners, pumps of artificial flavoring, and processed creamers. Ready to reap the rewards? Here are eight of 'em.
Reduces Your Risk of Melanoma
Four mugs a day may lower the risk of malignant melanoma by up to 20 percent, according to a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Turns out, vitamin derivatives that protect against UV rays are released when coffee beans are roasted, and coffee's polyphenol compounds help keep the body's cancer-fighting processes under control. Sorry, though—you still need to slather on the SPF.
Decreases Your Chance of Diabetes
Here's some sweet news: A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition links coffee with a 30 percent reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. "The exact reason why hasn't been established, but certain animal studies suggest coffee may reduce excess liver glucose output," says Rob van Dam, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and public health at the National University of Singapore.
Boosts Your Antioxidants
"Coffee is a potent antioxidant," says Stephanie Middleberg, RD, founder of Middleberg Nutrition in New York City. "In fact, the average American actually gets more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits or vegetables." Good news considering antioxidants up your body's ability to block the activity of chemicals known as free radicals that damage cells, and can cause certain cancers and heart disease. Drink to that!
Guards Against Depression
Talk about a pick-me-up—those who consumed two to three cups of coffee daily had a 15 percent lower risk for depression, according to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine. It's thought that caffeine boosts your energy and feeling of well-being by aiding in the release of feel-good serotonin, explains Michel Lucas, PhD, co-author of the study and a visiting scientist at the department of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Helps Prevent Alzheimer's Disease
This is your brain on coffee: In research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, regular moderate caffeine intake was shown to slow memory decline by preventing the development of amyloid plaques—a protein that blocks the spaces between brain cells and is a hallmark of Alzheimer's.
Keeps Your Eyesight Strong
Yes, you're seeing this correctly—a cup of your daily brew may help prevent against retinal degeneration, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Researchers at Cornell University believe the connection may be linked to the chlorogenic acid found in coffee and its ability to fight against free radicals that lead to tissue damage and loss of sight.
Improves Liver Health
To top off the pro-caffeine data: Those who drink three cups of coffee a day are about 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzyme levels, according to a study published in Hepatology. "There are many detoxifying compounds in coffee," says Qian Xiao, PhD, lead researcher on the study and a cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute.
Steps Up Your Fitness Game
You may want to sip on a steamy beverage before your next sweat session. Research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology showed that two cups of coffee ingested 45 to 90 minutes before cycling resulted in an increase in energy, leading to a boost in workout performance. "Caffeine's effects on the central nervous system act in opposition to fatigue and it also increases adrenaline and the release of dopamine," says Matthew Schubert, an author on the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "We also found that it made exercise feel more enjoyable and less strenuous." A win-win!