- A new study found people who regularly drink coffee tend to have stronger bones than those who don’t.
- Past research was inconclusive on whether java supported or detracted from bone health.
- Other research has linked coffee to a host of health benefits, especially for heart health.
For most of us, a morning coffee serves a specific purpose: to help us wake up. But according to new research, it may also be making that kick in your step more robust by strengthening your bones.
The study, by researchers at the University of Hong Kong, looked at 564 Chinese adults who had enrolled in an osteoporosis study, and compared the bone mineral density of those who said they drank coffee regularly with those who didn’t.
They found that, on the whole, java lovers had significantly higher bone mineral density, a marker of strong bones.
Specifically, the researchers identified three particular molecules that were associated with both coffee consumption and strong bones that were less likely to fracture.
Though the study was relatively small and based on people’s self-reports of their coffee consumption – an imperfect method – experts who were not involved in the research said it is robust-enough evidence to help settle the score, since past research has been inconclusive about coffee’s effects on bones.
“For all those folks who drink lots of coffee and are concerned about the health effects of coffee, this is good news,” Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Chad Deal, who did not take part in the study, said in a press release. “It appears to show that coffee is, in general, probably good for bone health.”
Past research has linked coffee to a host of health benefits, particularly for the heart
Overall, health research favors coffee drinkers.
Some of the most robust research comes from a 2012 National Institutes of Health study of more than 400,000 people in the US. It found that regular coffee drinkers were less likely to die from any cause – including heart disease, stroke and diabetes – than those who don’t drink the brew.
Another study of more than 500,000 Europeans in 2017 came to the same conclusion.
The research is particularly strong when it comes to coffee’s effects on the heart, with a 2017 review of 200 studies concluding that people who drink three or four cups a day may be 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
And, 2018 research on human tissue and lab mice suggested that four shots of espresso a day is optimal for heart health, since the drink seems to keep certain proteins in cells young.
“When you drink four to five cups of espresso,” study author Joachim Altschmied previously told Insider, “that seems to improve the function of the powerhouses of our cells, and therefore seems to be protective.”
Coffee has other benefits too, having been linked to a lower risk of liver disease, some cancers, dementia and Alzheimer’s, and depression.
That doesn’t mean you can drink coffee but do nothing else for your health, of course, Altschmied added. “It will not replace other things,” Altschmied previously told Insider. “Keep on doing your sports, eat healthy, and add coffee to your diet.”