Drinking coffee could reduce your risk of death from heart disease and other illnesses, according to a study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
People who regularly drink moderate amounts of coffee every day — less than five cups — have a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, diabetes and suicide.
The findings were also true of decaffeinated coffee, which suggests that the health benefits could be found in the naturally occurring chemical compounds in the coffee beans.
The study is based on data from three ongoing studies of over 160,000 women and 40,000 men. Researchers assessed coffee drinking every four years using food questionnaires and tracked the participants for up to 30 years in some cases.
The researchers found that people who frequently drink coffee are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol. Analysing data only from non-smokers made the protective benefits of coffee even more evident.
Non-smokers who drank three to five cups a day were found to have 15 per cent lower death rates.
Ming Ding, the study’s lead author, said: ‘Bioactive compounds in coffee reduce insulin resistance and systematic inflammation. They might be responsible for the inverse association between coffee and mortality. However, more studies are needed to investigate the biological mechanisms producing these effects.’
The chemicals in question are thought to be lignans and chlorogenic acid, which may lower the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and helping blood sugar.
The researchers caution that the link between coffee and risk of death is not causal, but point out that previous studies have also found an association with various health benefits.
The study’s senior author, Frank Hu, said: ‘Regular consumption of coffee can be included as part of a healthy, balanced diet. However, certain populations such as pregnant women and children should be cautious about high caffeine intake from coffee or other beverages.’