Does your daily routine include frequent trips to the coffee pot for a hot cup of Joe? If so, you may be doing more than just adding a little pep in your step; you could be protecting your liver too.
Previous studies have linked coffee to various health benefits, including lowered risk of diabetes, heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and liver cancer. It was suspected that caffeine may have been the active ingredient, but the results of a recent study published in the journal Hepatology suggest otherwise.
Dr. Qian Xiao of the U.S. National Cancer Institute led the study that evaluated the effects of coffee consumption on liver health. Xiao and his team analyzed data from nearly 28,000 Americans age 20 and older. Participants were asked to report how much coffee they had consumed within the last 24 hours, and blood samples were tested to measure participants’ liver enzyme levels.
Participants who reported drinking three or more cups of coffee a day had lower liver enzyme levels – an indicator of better liver health – than those who did not drink coffee at all. Interestingly, the caffeine content made no difference at all; the results were the same regardless of whether the participants drank regular or decaf coffee.
”Our findings link total and decaffeinated coffee intake to lower liver enzyme levels,” explained Xiao. “These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components” (Source: Daily Mail).
Although the study does not establish a direct cause-effect relationship between coffee and liver health, it does give coffee drinkers an excuse to feel good about pouring themselves another cup. The next time you satisfy your java addiction by brewing a fresh pot or sitting in line at Starbucks, you could be protecting your liver one sip at a time.