Coffee is more than a pleasure, almost a ritual. And from today we know that this ritual can also become a precious ally for our health. Yes, because coffee is also hepatoprotective, being able to prevent the condition of fatty liver and to limit its progression if already present. This emerges from a recent scientific research published in the journal Nutrients by an Australian team (Sewter et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Fatty liver, causes and the role of coffee
Fatty liver is a condition in which there is an excessive accumulation of lipids in the liver. Fatty liver is also often associated with type 2 diabetes, hypertension and insulin resistance and appears to be favored by obesity, poor exercise, high alcohol consumption and a poor diet. The problem is that fatty liver is a chronic condition that tends to evolve up to fibrosis and cirrhosis, thus altering the functionality of the liver itself. Previous studies had already observed that coffee helps prevent fatty liver. Thanks to the research we are talking about today, we also know that coffee can reduce the progression of this condition if it is already in place.
Coffee prevents and inhibits the progression of fatty liver
Researchers analyzed data regarding the diet and health conditions of participants in previous studies. Comparing coffee consumption and liver health, it was found that coffee consumption is inversely associated with the severity of fatty liver. In other words, moderate consumption of coffee, three cups a day, has been shown to reduce the risk of fatty liver developing into fibrosis and cirrhosis. However, it has been observed that the most protection is achieved with filtered coffee and less with espresso. Filtered coffee better preserves a substance with an antioxidant action, chlorogenic acid, however, the filtering operation causes the loss of other anti-aging substances such as cafestol and kahweol. Therefore, it is more likely that the different action of the two types of coffee on liver health is due to the fact that espresso coffee is more suitable to be drunk with large additions of table sugar, which contains fructose that in turn can worsen the condition of fatty liver.
The beneficial substances in coffee and conclusions
Coffee therefore prevents fatty liver, but can also limit its evolution into fibrosis and cirrhosis. This beneficial action is due not only to caffeine, capable of mitigating the progression into fibrosis, but also to other substances, such as chlorogenic acid, cafestol and kahweol, which act in synergy and perform an antioxidant and hepatoprotective action, reducing accumulation of lipids in the liver, lower inflammation and increase insulin sensitivity. This is evidenced by the fact that decaffeinated coffee was able to protect the liver by preventing fatty liver. Other studies will follow to shed more light on what has been observed, especially to better understand the difference in action between filtered coffee and espresso. For the moment, we know that including coffee as part of a healthy and balanced diet and an active lifestyle can also have significant benefits on liver health.