Coffee has substantial health benefits which may help some people with anxiety. For one, studies show that people who drink coffee regularly may have an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than non-drinkers, thanks to ingredients in coffee that can affect levels of hormones involved in metabolism. 

There’s also evidence that anxiety may  play a role in causing diabetes. A Norwegian study found that symptoms of anxiety and depression are significant risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes. In a study involving tens of thousands of people, researchers found that people who drank several cups a day—anywhere from two to four cups—actually had a lower risk of stroke. 

Heart experts say the benefits may come from coffee’s effect on the blood vessels; by keeping vessels flexible and healthy, it may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, which can cause heart attacks. Research has found that people with higher levels of anxiety have significantly greater risk of stroke and heart events than those with better mental health. 

Coffee is also high in antioxidants, which are known to fight the oxidative damage that can cause cancer. That may explain why some studies have found a lower risk of liver cancer among coffee drinkers. Oxidative damage in the brain causes nervous system impairment. Recently, oxidative stress has also been implicated in anxiety disorders and high anxiety levels. 

A number of studies have found that people who drank coffee regularly were less likely to die prematurely than those who didn’t drink coffee. Researchers believe that some of the chemicals in coffee may help reduce inflammation, which has been found to play a role in a number of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s. 

How Much Coffee is Safe for Anxiety Sufferers? 

For people with anxiety disorders who love coffee, it’s helpful to find the sweet spot of how many cups a day are safe. This may have a lot to do with how your body metabolizes coffee. Poor coffee metabolization may explain your friend who can have a double espresso at 9:00PM and still sleep like a baby. 

A recent study looked at coffee metabolism and lifespan. The researchers found that drinking coffee was associated with a longer life and lower risk of an early death. The researchers determined that coffee has positive effects on the heart, liver and brain. The study looked at 500,000 people of whom 387,494 were coffee drinkers. The results suggested that people who drank two to five cups of coffee a day were 12% less likely to die than non-coffee-drinkers over a 10-year time period. People who drank six to seven cups were 16% less likely to die, and people who drank eight or more cups were about 14% less likely to die. It didn’t matter whether the coffee was decaf or regular, ground or instant—all were beneficial, though the connection to lower risk of death was weaker for instant coffee. 

Because some people’s genetics make them slower to metabolize caffeine, the researchers wanted to see if that made coffee consumption riskier for these individuals. It turns out that even slow caffeine metabolizers seem to share the death-risk-reduction connected to coffee drinking. 

Of course, one downside is that people may become dependent on caffeine. The symptoms of caffeine withdrawal—headaches, irritability and fatigue—can mimic those of people coming off of addictive drugs and can trigger anxiety. Yet doctors don’t consider the dependence anywhere close to as worrisome as addictions to habit-forming drugs like opiates. 

While unpleasant, caffeine withdrawal symptoms are usually tolerable and tend to go away after a day or so. Like other foods and nutrients, too much coffee can cause problems in the digestive tract. Studies have shown that drinking up to four 8-ounce cups of coffee per day is safe. In some studies, it hasn’t mattered whether coffee was caffeinated or not, which indicates that the benefits may not be connected to caffeine. There are all kinds of other antioxidant-rich compounds in coffee that could have an effect. 

Organic coffee is considerably healthier than conventional. Conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It contains synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides. With organic coffee, there are no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals used in growing or production, which means cleaner beans. The coffee is grown with only organic fertilizers, like coffee pulp, chicken manure or compost. As a bonus, organic coffee beans are richer in healthful antioxidants, and some people can even taste the difference.

Randi Fredricks, Ph.D.


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