There has been a bevvy of research in recent years about the health benefits of drinking coffee, leaving regular coffee fans feeling validated — and more than a little smug.
Now, new research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that regularly drinking coffee doesn’t increase your chances of developing lifestyle diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity.
For the study, scientists studied the genes of more than 93,000 people in Denmark and determined that those that had genes that affect our cravings for coffee (and actually drank coffee) were no more likely to develop lifestyle diseases than those who weren’t big coffee drinkers.
As a result, they concluded, how much coffee you drink has no impact on whether you’ll develop type 2 diabetes or obesity.
Study author Børge Nordestgaard, MD, a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Copenhagen, tells Yahoo Health that he was surprised by the findings.
“Increased coffee intake is strongly associated with decreased risk of diabetes,” he says. “But then when we use genetics that determine how much coffee a person is drinking, coffee intake is not at all related to diabetes risk or other lifestyle diseases of conditions.”
According to data collected by the National Coffee Association, nearly 60 percent of U.S. adults drink coffee on any given day — and our coffee consumption has been increasing. In 2010, just 54 percent of U.S. adults drank coffee every day, the association found.
The majority of Americans may be on to something, since regular coffee consumption has been linked with a slew of health benefits.
Research published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that lifetime exposure to caffeine may be associated with better cognitive performance in women, especially older women.
Coffee has also been linked to good heart health: A study published in the journal Circulation: Heart Failure found that drinking moderate amounts of coffee is associated with a lower risk of developing heart failure. A 2013 study from the U.K.’s University of Birmingham also found that drinking coffee one hour before exercising can improve a person’s endurance.
Coffee may even be associated with a lower risk of developing liver cancer. An analysis published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer, was reduced by 40 percent for people who drank coffee.
“Coffee can be part of a healthy diet when consumed in moderation and without loading it up with sugary add-ins,” certified dietitian-nutritionist Jessica Cording tells Yahoo Health.
She says it’s best to opt for black drip coffee, or a latte or cappuccino made without added sweeteners, to avoid the extra calories that come with more dressed-up calorie drinks — those can end up canceling out any potential health benefits from your cup of Joe.
Just how much should you be drinking? Gina Keatley, a certified dietitian-nutritionist practicing in New York City tells Yahoo Health that it’s probably best to have no more than three cups a day.After three cups, she explains, the caffeine will make you urinate more than you should and can leave you slightly dehydrated.
Nordestgaard says the main takeaway from his research is that you shouldn’t be nervous about having a cup — or three — of coffee a day.