And drinking four cups of coffee each day is the point at which the benefit really kicks in, according to a major study on 20,000 middle-aged men and women.
Researchers from Hospital de Navarra in Spain found that the people in their study who drank coffee regularly had mortality rates almost two thirds lower than those who didn’t.
As well as caffeine, coffee contains antioxidants - which could be responsible for any health benefits. The study tracked 19,986 people over an average period of 10 years.
At the start, all participants provided detailed information about their lifestyle, health history, and dietary habits – including coffee consumption.
Around 1 in 60 participants died during the study, with those who drank coffee regularly having the lowest death rates.
The link between coffee consumption and decreased mortality rates was particularly pronounced among older people.
Lead author Dr Adela Navarro said: “I would advise drink plenty of coffee, it could be good for your heart. I think it's a good idea to have about four cups a day.
"I think it's the polyphenols (a form of antioxidant), they have an anti-inflammatory effect.”
It adds to a range of previous studies which have found potential benefits from the drink – one indicated that it could improve liver function, while another suggested it could boost the immune system.
A US study found that three cups a day could significantly extend life. But the British Heart Foundation has warned against coffee drinkers “resting on their laurels”, adding: “The best way to minimise your risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death is to concentrate on an overall healthy lifestyle - eat a balanced diet, stay active and don’t smoke - rather than lining up the lattes.”
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