This suggests that chemical compounds in coffee other than caffeine may help protect the liver, showed the study.

"Prior research found that drinking coffee may have a possible protective effect on the liver. However, the evidence is not clear if that benefit may extend to decaffeinated coffee," said Qian Xiao from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland.

Previous studies found that coffee consumption may help lower the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.

For the study, researchers collected data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

They enrolled 27,793 participants in age group 20 who were provided their coffee intake for a 24-hour period.The team measured blood levels of several markers of liver function, including aminotransferase (ALT), aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and gamma glutamyl transaminase (GGT) to determine liver health.

Participants who reported drinking three or more cups of coffee per day had lower levels of ALT, AST, ALP and GGT compared to those not consuming any coffee, found the study.

Researchers also found low levels of these liver enzymes in participants drinking only decaffeinated coffee.

"Our findings link total and decaffeinated coffee intake to lower liver enzyme levels. These data suggest that ingredients in coffee, other than caffeine, may promote liver health. Further studies are needed to identify these components," concluded Xiao.

The study appeared in the journal Hepatology.

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