Health Benefits of Black Coffee

For most of history, coffee was a drink for the rich. Now almost anyone can brew their own at home for pennies a mug, or pick up a pre-brewed cup for a few dollars.

If you drink your coffee black, there's some good news coming to you. Black coffee doesn't just give you an energy boost — it can keep you healthy in multiple ways.

Health Benefits

Black coffee may be able to help manage symptoms of or even prevent a number of health problems. In moderation, black coffee may help:

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention

Drinking coffee may help to reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease affects one in every eight people aged 65 and older. Scientists estimate that the risk is 16% lower for coffee drinkers than non-coffee drinkers, but more studies still need to be done to confirm the connection.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Coffee may help to prevent some forms of cancer, including oral cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, and colorectal cancer. Scientists haven’t determined why coffee can reduce cancer risk. Part of the reason may be that coffee is high in antioxidants, which some studies say can help to prevent cancer.

Reduced Risk of Cirrhosis

About 31,000 people die every year from cirrhosis of the liver. Studies show that drinking coffee can reduce your risk of cirrhosis, especially when the damage comes from alcohol. Drinking four or more cups a day can reduce your risk of alcoholic cirrhosis by as much as 80%. Drinking the same amount may reduce your risk of non-alcoholic cirrhosis by up to 30%.

Mood Improvement

Depression affects more than 18 million adults nationwide. Studies have shown that coffee may help to reduce depression risk, especially if you drink four or more cups per day.

Diabetes Management

People who drink coffee regularly have a lower risk of getting type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes mostly affects adults. It develops when someone’s body can’t use insulin to get glucose (sugar) into cells, so sugar builds up in the blood instead.

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Multiple studies show that drinking coffee can reduce the risk of diabetes. One group of researchers found that the risk is 35% lower for people who drink six or more cups of coffee per day and 28% lower for people who drink four to six cups. Another study showed that for every extra cup of coffee a person drinks per day, their risk of developing diabetes drops by 7%.

Obesity Management

The caffeine content in coffee can help with weight management. Research shows that you burn more calories when you consume coffee regularly throughout the day. Coffee also helps your body to burn more fat, especially when you exercise.

Parkinson’s Disease Prevention

Like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease mostly affects older adults. The most common symptoms are shaking, muscle stiffness, and changes in speech and walking.

Research shows that the more coffee you drink, the less likely you are to develop Parkinson’s. Scientists believe that the caffeine in coffee is responsible. According to another study, though, it may not work if you take estrogen as hormone therapy.

Nutrition

Black coffee is rich in antioxidants, which can fight cell damage and reduce your risk of serious health conditions like cancer and heart disease. Coffee is the primary source of antioxidants in most American diets.

Black coffee also contains high levels of:

  • Vitamin B2
  • Caffeine
  • Magnesium

Nutrients per Serving

One serving of black coffee contains:

  • Calories: 2
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 5 milligrams

Portion Sizes

A single serving of black coffee is 8 ounces, much less than you’d get from most commercial-sized cups of coffee.

Keep in mind that there are about 96 milligrams of caffeine in that single serving, and it's not a good idea to take in more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. If you're a big coffee drinker, keep track of your intake and avoid going over 4 cups daily.

How to Prepare Black Coffee

You can get coffee in various stages of readiness, from raw beans to pre-brewed coffee from your local coffee shop. The taste of your coffee will depend on the type of bean, as some have a stronger flavor than others.

Freshly ground beans tend to taste better. After that point, what you do to prepare your coffee is a personal decision. Try some of these ways of brewing black coffee:

  • An auto-drip coffee maker
  • The pour-over method
  • A French press
  • An AeroPress
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on August 22, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea intakes and risk of colorectal cancer in a large prospective study.”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Metabolic effects of caffeine in humans: lipid oxidation or futile cycling?”

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Normal caffeine consumption: influence on thermogenesis and daily expenditure in lean and postobese human volunteers.”  

American Journal of Epidemiology: “Coffee consumption, gender, and Parkinson’s disease mortality in the cancer prevention study II cohort: the modifying effects of estrogen.”

Archives of Internal Medicine. “Coffee, caffeine, and risk of depression among women.”

Archives of Internal Medicine: “Coffee, cirrhosis, and transaminase enzymes.” 

Archives of Internal Medicine: “Coffee, decaffeinated coffee, and tea consumption in relation to incident type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review with meta-analysis.”

Consumer Reports: “How to Brew the Perfect Cup of Coffee.”

Gastroenterology: “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Liver Cancer: A Meta-Analysis.”

Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology: “Notes on the history of caffeine use.”

Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: “The Nutrition Source: Coffee.”

Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease: “Caffeine intake and dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association: “Association of coffee and caffeine intake with the risk of Parkinson’s disease.”

The Journal of the American Medical Association: “Coffee consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes: a systematic review.”

National Cancer Institute: “Antioxidants and Cancer Prevention.”

National Coffee Association: “How to Brew Coffee.”

Starbucks Customer Service: “What are the sizes of Starbucks drinks?”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Mayo Clinic Nutrition and Healthy Eating: “Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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