Four cups of coffee every day may seem like a lot to some of us (and perhaps not enough to others), but research has recently shown a correlation between that amount of coffee and a dramatically reduced risk of premature death. So if you’ve been considering changing your coffee-drinking routine, you might want to check out the research first.
A study of nearly 20,000 men and women aged 25 to 60 (337 of whom died during the course of the study) reported that those who regularly drank coffee had two-thirds lower mortality rates than those who never drank coffee or used it only sparingly. The greatest benefit of the coffee was seen in the oldest participants studied.
Even better than that, it appears that the more coffee you drink, the better off you may be. Each two-cup increase in a person’s daily coffee intake was associated with a 22 to 30 percent decrease in the risk of early death. At four cups, which is what lead study author Dr. Adela Navarro recommends, the risk of premature death drops by 64 percent.
Researchers did not observe whether the use of cream or sugar in coffee affected the benefit of the beverage in any way. They also didn’t establish a recommended coffee intake limit, so use good judgement in deciding where your daily cap should be. Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy diet despite the study’s suggestion that a large amount of coffee could be beneficial to your health.
“Coffee drinkers should certainly not rest on their laurels,” he says. “The best way to minimize your risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death is to concentrate on an overall healthy lifestyle—eat a balanced diet, stay active and don’t smoke—rather than lining up the lattes.”
The study was also not able to establish a causal link between coffee consumption and longevity; it only proves a correlation between the two factors. But it does support previous research suggesting that coffee may reduce inflammation and boost the liver and immune system, potentially due to the caffeine, diterpenes, and antioxidants in the beverage.
Researchers plan to continue tracking the study’s participants, most of whom have already been involved in the study for about 10 years, to see whether future observations support their current findings.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?