The New, Surprising Health Benefit of Decaf Coffee

While it doesn't come with a morning energy boost, it may be linked to good news for your body.

Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Add this to the ever-growing list of why there’s no need to feel guilty about your coffee addiction: Findings published in the journal Hepatology show it may be good for your liver, too. While previous research has linked regular coffee consumption to protecting against Type 2 diabetes and reducing cancer risk, this study suggests that decaf drinkers can now take pride in their morning beverage—they get a health boost, too.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Maryland studied almost 28,000 participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, an annual survey that assesses the health status of American adults through interviews and examinations. Participants were at least 20 years old, and reported how much coffee they consumed in a 24-hour period as part of their dietary recall. For this study in particular, the research team also looked at four liver enzymes that are often signs of damage or inflammation.

Over a 10-year period, researchers found that people who drank at least three cups of coffee a day showed lower levels of all four enzymes compared to those who did not drink coffee at all. What’s more, the findings showed that decaf coffee drinkers reaped the same reward—a healthier liver.

"Our findings link total and decaffeinated coffee intake to lower liver enzyme levels,” lead researcher Dr. Qian Xiao said in a statement. “These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health."

Plus: Higher caffeine consumption might lower your risk for this common condition.