The study, published this week in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, evaluated more than 500,000 U.K. participants over a 10-year period. Researchers, using a combination of data, wanted to see if the heaviest coffee drinkers were more likely to die sooner. They used non-coffee drinkers as a control.
What they found will surely delight those who simply can't start the day without a piping hot cup of java: not only did the coffee drinkers have a lower mortality rate, but the heaviest drinkers—those who chugged eight cups of coffee a day—actually lived longer, the researchers concluded. It didn't matter if they drank instant, ground or even decaf coffee. How people metabolize caffeine also didn't come into play, so researchers think the coffee beans themselves have health benefits.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid. In fact, coffee is the top source of antioxidants in our diets and has more per serving than blueberries. Antioxidants help reduce inflammation in our bodies, and might help explain some of coffee's health-boosting properties.
Of the 500,000 participants, about 14,200 passed away during the 10-year-long study. Those most likely to live the longest, the researchers observed, were coffee drinkers across the board.
This was hardly the first study to suggest coffee can aid health, but it may be the first—and possibly the largest—to conclude that copious amounts of this caffeinated beverage can be beneficial. It supports a study from last year that showed coffee consumption may reduce a person's risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as a previous analysis that linked coffee drinking with lower risk of liver-related illnesses like hepatocellular cancer, cirrhosis and fibrosis.
However, most experts recommend capping your caffeine at 400 milligrams a day, which is about 4 cups of home-brewed coffee. In other words, limit your intake to about 6 ounces of espresso, 18 ounces of Starbucks Blonde Roast, 24 ounces of Starbucks Dark Roast, 32 ounces of cold brew or 32 ounces of home-brewed drip coffee. We always find it hard to believe that coffee can be good for us—because we love to drink it!—but it's time to put that myth to bed. Red wine has health benefits too, as well as chocolate and other "bad" foods.
After reading this good news, you're probably ready to put on a second pot. But before you do, be sure to read these rules for making the perfect cup of coffee. (After all, you might not realize it, but you could be making some very common coffee-brewing mistakes.) Bottoms up!