In many ways, coffee is a lifesaver. In addition to its obvious benefits—aka a rapid jolt of energy coupled with a sudden feeling of alertness—coffee also offers a host of other scientifically-backed health benefits, including supercharging your workout, reducing the risk of depression, and even lowering your risk of diabetes. Now, researchers have discovered another possible advantage to drinking coffee that’s sure to surprise you.
According to a study recently published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, regularly drinking coffee can lower your risk of hearing loss. But here’s the catch—it only works if you’re a man. The study, which was conducted by researchers from the Autonomous University of Madrid, observed how nearly 37,000 older adults’ hearing function changed over 11 years. They found that men who drank at least one cup of coffee per day were 15% less likely to experience hearing loss than men who drank less than a cup a day. (Related: The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now).
“We hypothesized that coffee, that has shown some beneficial effects on reducing the risk of having type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease (CVD), may also have benefits reducing the risk of hearing impairment,” the study’s corresponding author Esther Lopez-Garcia, PhD, MPH, told Eat This, Not That! She added that the study “suggests that it is possible that it has a beneficial effect [on hearing function], due to similar pathways that explain the association between coffee and diabetes and CVD.”
Even men who don’t like relying on coffee for energy may benefit from the study’s findings—the positive impact coffee had on hearing was nearly equivalent for both caffeinated or decaf varieties. It also didn’t matter how the coffee was prepared. The only thing that did seem to make a difference was the drinker’s biological sex. Despite all of the hearing benefits java provided for the study’s male participants, the researchers did not notice any such associations for women.
This was the first study to look at the effects coffee had on hearing impairment over time. The researchers connected coffee’s ability to preserve men’s hearing with the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities of some of the compounds in the beverage.
For more unexpected (and occasionally mystifying) information about coffee, check out these 15 Facts About Coffee You Never Knew and then, consider reading Easy Ways You Can Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes, According to a Registered Dietitian.