Drinking coffee in moderation has numerous health benefits, especially for the brain. A recent study conducted in Hamburg, Germany, found that those who regularly drank three to four cups of coffee a day had the strongest brain structure when compared to other groups who drank less or more coffee.
The exploratory population-based study analyzed the brains of over 2,000 people aged 45-74 and compared four groups: those who drank less than 1 cup a day, 1-2 cups a day, 3-4 cups a day, and 5-6 cups of coffee a day. The results showed that those who drank three to four cups of coffee a day had better preserved cortical thickness, which is generally associated with higher intelligence.
However, the study design had limitations as it was conducted on a small and homogeneous group. Additionally, those who drank more coffee were healthier and more educated at baseline. Therefore, the authors noted that more research is needed to determine whether decaffeinated coffee has similar effects.
Despite these limitations, these initial findings add to the growing body of evidence supporting the idea that coffee is good for the brain and overall health. Coffee has been shown to slow cognitive decline and potentially reduce the risks of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. A 2017 meta-analysis also found that coffee reduces the incidence of cardiovascular and other diseases as well as neurological, metabolic and liver conditions. Although not all studies looked at exactly how many cups were consumed for optimal benefit, some suggest a threshold of three to four cups per day may be ideal.