All Types of Coffee Protect Against Liver Disease, Study Shows

Here are some key takeaways

  • Over 1,000 natural chemicals are found in coffee, many of which can be beneficial for human health.
  • The consumption of coffee has been shown to lower the risk of developing chronic liver diseases. However, it was not clear if these effects were different depending on whether one consumes instant, ground, or decaf.
  • A new study finds that all types of coffee—ground, instant, and decaf—are protective against liver disease.

Coffee lovers rejoice A new study was published in BMC Public Health investigated which types of coffee—instant, ground, or decaf—may help lower the risk of chronic liver disease (CLD). The good news is that all types of coffee may be protected by the study.

CLD is a chronic inflammation that causes damage and regeneration of liver tissues. This leads to scar tissue (fibrosis), and eventually cirrhosis. In rare cases, liver cancer can be caused by cirrhosis.

The CDC estimates that approximately 4.5 Million Americans have CLD.CLD can occur in three types: alcoholic liver diseases, non-alcoholicfatty liver diseases (NAFLD), or chronic viral liver disease. CLD can also be caused by genetic or autoimmune factors.

Past observational and laboratory studies have shown that coffee may protect against developing CLD, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. In a new study, researchers wanted to specifically see whether ground, instant, or decaf coffee was more effective at protecting liver health.

What was Study?

The UK Biobank is a prospective longitudinal study database of more than 500,000 UK residents. Data was used by the researchers. Participants from the UK Biobank answered questions about their medical history and lifestyle, and underwent physical examinations. They also gave blood and urine samples.

A touchscreen questionnaire was used to collect data about coffee consumption. Participants were asked to tell us how many cups of coffee each day they drank and what kind of coffee they prefer.

  • Decaffeinated
  • Instant
  • Ground (including espresso)
  • Other

There were 494,585 participants in this study after some exclusions (people who withdrew their consent or had CLD at baseline). They were followed for a median period of 10.7 years.

What Did the Study Find?

Overall, the study showed that coffee drinkers (all kinds of coffee combined) were less likely to develop CLD or die from it. There were 9,039 cases or steatosis of CLD, 184 cases liver cancer and 301 deaths due to CLD during the follow-up. 

Median coffee consumption was 2 cups per day. Participants who drank coffee

  • 19% drank decaffeinated coffee
  • 55% drank instant coffee
  • 23% drank ground (including espresso) coffee

Jonathan Fallowfield PhD

Overall, coffee drinkers were 21% less likely than non-coffee drinkers to develop chronic liver disease. They were also 20% less likely develop chronic or fatty liver disease. They were 49% less likely that they would die from chronic liver diseases.

— Jonathan Fallowfield, PhD

“We showed that consumption of ALL coffee types (including decaffeinated, instant and ground coffee), was associated with reduced risk of liver disease outcomes,” says Professor Jonathan Fallowfield, Chair of Translational Liver Research & Principal Investigator at the University of Edinburgh Centre for Inflammation Research in Scotland, and one of this study’s authors.

“Overall coffee drinkers were 21% less likely to develop chronic liver disease, 20% less likely to develop chronic or fatty liver disease, and 49% less likely to die from chronic liver disease than non-coffee drinkers,” says Fallowfield.

Researchers found that 3-4 cups of coffee per morning was the best way to reduce risk for various health outcomes. 

“What our current study shows is that decaffeinated coffee also appears to confer protective effects,” says Fallowfield.

That’s good news if you are sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeinated coffee—you can likely drink decaf and get similar results.

What is the Benefit of Coffee?

“Coffee contains over 1,000 chemicals including the alkaloids caffeine and trigonelline, phenolic acids such as chlorogenic acids and the oily diterpenes cafestol and kahweol,” says Fallowfield.

Some of these chemicals and antioxidants are thought to be good for human health, such as caffeine, chlorogenic acid and kahweol.

Decaffeinated coffee is devoid of caffeine. Instant and filtered coffees have very little kahweol or cafestol. However, all seem to be effective in reducing CLD risk.

“Many of the substances in coffee have been shown in the laboratory to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, or even anti-cancer properties,” says Fallowfield. “There probably isn’t one magic ingredient!”

Foods that Support Liver Health

What other foods and beverages are good for a healthy liver than coffee?

Diana Mager, PhD, MSc, RDProfessor of Clinical Nutrition at the University of Alberta, Dr. Judith Sullivan provided some answers.

“Diets that are high in antioxidants, vitamin E and D, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be associated with reductions in inflammation and oxidative stress, particularly in adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” says Mager. 

Mager states that while there is some debate over the general dietary patterns, most data support that a Mediterranean-style eating pattern is important for healthy liver function. 

Diana Mager PhD. MSc. RD

Consuming high levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, and vitamin D as well as omega-3 fatty acid has been shown to reduce inflammation and oxidative stresses, especially in adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

— Diana Mager PhD, MSc, RD

You can choose from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, as well as fatty fish. 

It’s also important to choose fewer foods that are high in sugars and saturated fats, such as baked goods, fast food and other ultra-processed options.

Foods high in high fructose corn syrup (sugar sweetened beverages, sugar-sweetened snack foods) and saturated fat (fast foods) have been associated with an increased risk for inflammation, oxidative stress and steatosis in adults with a variety of liver diseases,” says Mager. “The recommendation is to limit or avoid these foods in the diet.”

Mager explains how excessive alcohol consumption can lead to an increase in alcohol-induced liver disease (AIP) and cirrhosis risk.

What does this mean for you?

It’s great news for coffee drinkers—no matter if you drink ground, instant, or decaf—studies show that coffee is protective against liver disease. 

Source: Very Well Fit

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