Drinking three cups of coffee a day may support healthy liver function, said a report released this week by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Researchers studied the coffee drinking habits of more than 27,000 people, ages 20 or older, and took note of key markers of liver function in their blood samples, including alkaline phosphatase, glutamyl transaminase and two aminotransferase enzymes.
Participants who said they drank three or more cups of coffee— either decaffeinated or caffeinated— in a set 24-hour period had lower levels of these markers than non-coffee drinkers, indicating greater liver health.
The research team pulled data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
More than half of all Americans over 18 drink an average of three cups of coffee each day, according to a 2010 report by the National Coffee Association.
“These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health,” lead researcher Dr. Qian Xiao from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland said in a news release. “Further studies are needed to identify these components.”
The study is published in Hepatology.