What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? For many Americans, the day begins by trudging to the coffee pot or stopping for a daily latte before rushing into the office. Coffee is a daily ritual in Blue Zones areas, as well. Sardinians, Ikarians and Nicoyans start their days with a cup, lightly sweetened without cream. In addition to a daily cup of coffee, Blue Zones centenarians drink water, tea and wine.
While coffee is often a hotly-debated health topic, it’s shown to carry many health benefits.
In all five original Blue Zones areas, people drink up to two or three cups of black coffee per day! The American Heart Association found that consuming coffee, both caffeinated and decaf, was associated with a lower risk of total mortality. Other major studies confirm that coffee drinkers live longer than those who don’t drink it, and have lower risks of early death.
Five science-backed ways coffee benefits life expectancy and overall health:
1. It provides essential antioxidants.
Coffee, similar to Cannonau wine from Sardinia, leafy green vegetables and blueberries, contains polyphenols that are effective at neutralizing free radicals and helping to prevent some diseases. In a study published by The Journal of Nutrition, consumption of coffee, wine and vegetables reduced the risk of major chronic degenerative diseases. The antioxidant intake was most drastically affected by the intake of coffee. For most Americans, coffee provides more than just a jolt of energy—it’s where we get the majority of our daily antioxidants.
2. It can improve mood.
There is a strong correlation between coffee and mood, particularly in women. In a study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers found that women who drank two to three cups of caffeinated coffee per day were 15 percent less likely to become depressed over a 10 year period. Studies published in the journal Psychiatric Services have shown that patients with depression die, on average, five years earlier than those without a depression diagnosis. They also report a loss of productive, healthy years.
3. It can lower inflammation.
While coffee isn’t a magic cure for aging, it does have direct benefits that could contribute to an overall healthier life and a lower risk for age-related diseases caused by inflammation. And a study published by the European Journal of Neurology found that caffeine intake from coffee was associated with a significantly lower risk for Alzheimer’s.
4. It can lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
Centenarians in the Blue Zones regions live extremely long lives, largely free of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Their diets are high in nutrient-dense plant foods that support a healthy life, but they also consume caffeine daily. In a study published by JAMA, regular consumption of coffee, specifically fully caffeinated coffee, is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. It can lower the risk of prostate cancer in men.
In a study led by the Harvard School of Public Health, researchers found that coffee-drinking men who consumed both caffeinated and decaf varieties had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer. The highest-consuming participants ended up having a 20 percent lower risk than other participants. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in American men after skin cancer.