It could save your liver, according to a new study.
There's a great debate surrounding coffee. It's does everything from givin giving you your vitamins to giving you bad breath. It'll make you pee a lot, but it's not a diuretic. It's good, and it's bad, the debate rages on. But a new study adds another reason to land on coffee's good side: Drinking java can help keep your liver from hardening and scarring over a lifetime.
For the new study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, researchers analyzed the blood work and ultrasounds of more than 2,400 residents of Rotterdam in The Netherlands, after they completed long questionnaires about their coffee-drinking habits. They found that people who drank coffee were significantly less likely to have stiff or scarred livers—even if they drank coffee in small amounts. And the same was true for tea.
In fact, the researchers concluded that drinking just a little coffee or tea each day could help prevent damage that eventually leads to liver disease. And in case you need a reminder, liver disease is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S. It's often caused by our poor diets—including eating unhealthy foods, taking too many medications, and drinking too much alcohol—which works our livers into disrepair.
But before you start chugging coffee, consider this: the study group was relatively small, and limited to residents of The Netherlands, so a U.S.-based study would be useful to determine whether our particular diets could benefit from coffee and tea. Plus, the researchers didn't follow up on the strength of the beverages, so we don't yet know if certain brews are more beneficial to our livers than others.
However, for now, this seems like another solid reason to keep yourself caffeinated. Just don't drink too much coffee in the name of your liver. One thing science can seem to agree on when it comes to java is that there can be too much of a good thing.