A lot of people think that coffee may be harmful. Recent research has shown that it is actually protective of liver health and plays an important role in the diet for anyone dealing with most liver diseases.
A meta analysis from 2015 summarized 16 studies, looking at 3,034 coffee consumers and 132,076 people who do not consume coffee. In this study, coffee consumers were 39% less likely to develop cirrhosis and 27% less likely to develop advanced fibrosis compared with those who do not consume coffee, demonstrating the protective effect of coffee.
The amount of coffee consumed is important to consider. Many studies suggest that one cup of coffee per day can have a small protective effect, which can be increased by drinking more cups of coffee per day. A 2018 study focused specifically on coffee and NAFLD/NASH suggested that coffee consumption of more than 3 cups per day reduced NAFLD significantly. The Fatty Liver Foundation’s Liver Friendly diet recommends drinking between 3-4 cups per day.
People all over the world make and take their coffee differently, and research has shown that not all types of coffee may be beneficial in liver disease. Another meta analysis from 2014 discussed the protective role for paper-filtered coffee and the potentially deleterious effect for unfiltered coffee. Coffee has over 100 compounds, which is part of the reason it can have such beneficial health effects. That being said, some of these compounds are harmful, but are removed by paper filtration. In addition to making sure you brew coffee with a paper filter, it is important to scrutinize the other things you may be adding in. Milk, sugar, and other sweeteners can be difficult for your liver to process, so the most beneficial form of coffee to drink is plain black and paper-filtered.
Coffee is a delicious drink that many people already include in their daily routines. If you are a coffee drinker, keep it up, and maybe think about how you could make or take it differently to further help your liver. If you are not a regular coffee drinker, it isn’t a bad idea to start, as other caffeinated beverages like tea do not have the same protective effect as coffee.
Click here to view a summary guide of Fatty Liver Foundation's Liver Friendly Diet. It is a useful tool to help guide your eating practices. It is printer-friendly and can be posted in your kitchen as a daily reminder to eat with your liver's health in mind.