Researchers with Northwestern University published findings in the Nutrients journal, stemming from an analysis of nearly 40,000 participants in the U.K. Biobank. The team studied participants’ dietary habits in 2006-2010 and hypothesized the subsequent risk of coronavirus infection in 2020. Researchers specifically looked at participants’ consumption of coffee, tea, processed meat, red meat, fruit, vegetables and oily fish.
After adjusting for factors like race, age, sex and other factors like physical activity, BMI level and history of certain medical conditions, researchers found “habitual consumption of 1 or more cups of coffee per day was associated with about a 10% decrease in risk of COVID-19 compared to less than 1 cup/day.”
“The odds of COVID-19 positivity were 0.90, 0.90, and 0.92 when consuming 1 cup, 2–3 cups, and 4+ cups of coffee/day (vs. <1 cup/day), respectively,” the study reads.
Coffee contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and “coffee consumption favorably correlates with inflammatory biomarkers” linked to “COVID-19 severity and mortality,” study authors wrote. “Taken together, an immunoprotective effect of coffee against COVID-19 is plausible and merits further investigation.”
Further findings suggested daily consumption of at least 0.67 servings of vegetables reduced risk of coronavirus infection, however processed meat (like sausage and ham) was associated with a heightened risk, which researchers suspect owes in part to other dietary factors instead of meat consumption itself, as red meat consumption posed no risk.
“Although these findings warrant independent confirmation, adherence to certain dietary behaviors may be an additional tool to existing COVID-19 protection guidelines to limit the spread of this virus,” authors wrote.