The health benefits of coffee have long been debated, but a wave of recent research linking its consumption positively to health and longevity may have finally put the discussion to rest.

As previously reported by Verdict, two separate research studies published this year have already linked higher frequency of coffee consumption to a reduced risk of mortality. These findings have now been supported by a wide-scale meta-analysis published in this month’s British Medical Journal.

Researchers at the University of Southampton reviewed a number of observational and interventional studies to evaluate the link between coffee consumption and health, coming to the conclusion that moderate coffee consumption (around three to four cups per day) is more likely to be beneficial than harmful to health.

The findings will be welcomed by coffee consumers around the globe; particularly as other caffeinated beverage options such as fizzy drinks and energy drinks become increasingly vilified due to their high sugar content.

According to GlobalData’s Q3 2016 consumer survey 60 percent of consumers globally are often or always influenced by how the product impacts their health and wellbeing when choosing non-alcoholic beverages. Given, 89 percent of consumers are interested in food and drinks that claim to improve general health and wellbeing, coffee is likely to be an increasingly attractive beverage option.

Indeed, coffee consumption is already on the rise globally, with GlobalData forecasting volume sales of coffee to grow by around 2.4% per year from 2016 to reach 6.8bn KG by 2021.  As awareness of the positive benefits of coffee become more widespread, it is likely become even more attractive as form of healthy functional hydration supporting further growth.

Coffee also has the advantage of being a natural product, likely making it more appealing than the array of functional health beverages, such as added vitamin waters, hitting the market. GlobalData’s Q1 2017 survey revealed that 90% of consumers globally find products naturally high in nutrients to be appealing; well above the 68 percent who find products fortified with added nutrients appealing.

As the understanding of the link between coffee consumption and health increases, there are opportunities for other food and drink brands, beyond coffee, to capitalize by incorporating coffee as a flavor or ingredient to enhance the healthy “halo” of such products.