If there’s one drink I can’t imagine living without, it’s coffee. I depend on it for that extra push into alertness in the morning, and while there may be days I even forget to eat breakfast or I skip putting on make-up, I could never skip or forget my morning joe. Turns out that rather than being a health risk like concerned friends and family members have warned me, coffee actually has several medically proven benefits, shown in studies from institutions like the Harvard School of Public Health and Journal of the National Cancer Institute, and compiled by Real Simple. Did you know that coffee can:

  1. Decrease stress?
    The antioxidants in coffee are a great health benefit, one shown to increase your body’s stress-reduction. Even just the smell has been shown to trigger the effect in rats in a South Korean study. No wonder we love the scent of brewing beans!
  2. Fight obesity?
    Coffee also contains a compound called chlorogenic acid, or CGA, which has been linked to inflammation reduction, healthy livers, and normal blood-sugar maintenance, all important components for weight maintenance and the fight against obesity. Additional studies have even linked coffee to a lower Type 2 diabestes risk.
  3. Help prevent skin cancer?
    Coffee SunriseIvan Kruk

    Participants in a 10 year cancer study who drank four or more cups of coffee a day showed less cutaneous melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer death. Drinking the same amount can lower your own risk by 20 percent!
  4. Prevent Parkinson’s disease?
    Whether you drink as little as four ounces or as much as four cups of coffee a day, you may be less likely to develop Parkinson’s than those individuals who drink none. Though the study only followed men, it’s wonderful to find anything that can potentially slow this degenerative nervous system disorder, which has treatments but – so far – no known cure.
  5. Make your workout more effective?
    While we wouldn’t suggest swapping out your water for coffee – make sure to stay hydrated while working out! – coffee can help you stay energized for longer periods of time, including while you exercise. It increases the number of fatty acids in your bloodstream, allowing your body to burn carbs more slowly and thereby raising your endurance levels.
  6. Decrease the risk of depression?
    Coffee HappyFlickr, Astronomy Happy

    In addition to decreasing your stress levels, coffee has been shown to decrease the risk of depression by as much as 20 percent, specifically in women. Additionally, people who drink two to four cups a day may have a 50 percent lower risk of suicide. Those numbers are definitely statistics to make you happy!
  7. Help your hearing?
    In another study focused on women – but with potential benefits for everybody! – coffee was linked to the prevention of the persistent ringing in your ears that can develop as you age, called tinnitus. Sounds great to us!
  8. Increase the health of your liver?
    The anti-inflammation properties that help combat obesity can also benefit your liver. Whether you drink caffeinated or decaffeinated java, you’ll benefit from lower levels of the liver enzymes that cause inflammation and subsequent liver disease.
  9. Lead to a longer life?
    Senior men drinking tea togetherMonkey Business

    Though it’s not quite a magic elixir, drinking coffee could potentially lower the risk of dying by as much as 10 percent for men and 15 percent for women. If that’s not the ultimate benefit, I don’t know what is. Plus— more time to drink more coffee!

Did any of these benefits surprise you? Are you a big coffee drinker? Will you increase your consumption after learning these benefits, or do you think the jury’s still out? Tell us what you think!