Frank Madeo, head of the ageing and cell death research group at Graz University said his team has shown that in mice black coffee triggers a process known as autophagy – in which cellular components are cleansed and detoxified.
"This cellular 'garbage collection' is mainly triggered during controlled fasting," said Madeo. Working with scientists from Paris Descartes University his team found that coffee also triggers this purification process.
"One to four hours after the consumption of coffee, cellular autophagy of all the examined organs – the liver, muscles, and heart – was greatly boosted. We suspect that this is caused by the polyphenols present in coffee," Madeo said.
Polyphenols are plant compounds found in coffee as well as red wine, fruits and fruit juices, tea, vegetables, chocolate and legumes.
Decaffeinated coffee had the same effect but adding milk inhibited the process.
Trials have shown that limiting your intake of methionine – an amino acid found in animal proteins – can significantly prolong life, said researcher Christoph Ruckstuhl, from Graz University.
He recommends drinking coffee black or with a non-dairy liquid such as soy or nut milk.
Austrians consume 160 litres of coffee annually – it is one of the most popular non-alcoholic stimulants in the country.
A recent study from Cornell University in New York found that a chemical present in coffee prevents deteriorating eyesight and possible blindness from retinal degeneration due to glaucoma, ageing and diabetes.
Previous studies have shown that coffee also cuts the risk of chronic diseases such as Parkinson's, prostate cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer's.
Coffee contains 1% caffeine but between 7 and 9% chlorogenic acid which is a strong antioxidant.