Who doesn't perk up when they hear news that suggests a favorite vice may actually have a few virtues? People should — literally — if new research about the health benefits of drinking coffee is to be believed.
Recently, scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden combined statistics from eight studies conducted between 1960 and 2011 that had researched the correlation between coffee consumption and human health. The analysis, which included the results of some 500,000 surveyed individuals, was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and revealed that people who drank two cups of coffee a day were 14 percent less likely to suffer from a stroke.
Though scientific opinion is often strongly divided on the subject, this is far from the first time coffee has been credited with having some potentially good-for-you qualities. Even beyond studies that agree upon the subjective benefits of coffee (improved alertness, concentration, and energy), there are also those supporting loftier claims. For example, that consumption may help in lowering the incidence of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Now, to be clear, as is the case with the purported health benefits of drinking wine, these findings are based on the stipulation of moderate consumption. As nutritionist Kelly Aronica put it, "One to two cups a day (real cups, not two Starbucks Venti-sized beverages) can be beneficial."
Read on for the buzz on the many ways drinking coffee may be good for your health.
Helps reduce the risk of stroke
The Karolinska Institute researchers behind the recently published findings theorized that the antioxidants found in coffee may help shield the brain's blood vessels from so-called "bad" cholesterol. Individuals who drank two and three cups of coffee a day appeared to be less likely to suffer from a blood clot in the brain by 14 and 17 percent, respectively.
Lowers the risk of heart disease
Although drinking coffee can sometimes cause a brief spike in a person's blood pressure, a Harvard Nurses' Health Study did not find habitual caffeine intake to be responsible for increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease. And, according to a Japanese study of 81,000 men and women published this year in the Journal of Epidemiology and Human Health, drinking two cups daily reduced the risk of dying from heart disease by 23 percent.