The debate as to whether or not coffee is of any real benefit to health has been raging for generations – chances are it won’t be going anywhere in the near future, either. But at the same time, on-going studies are to some extent finally beginning to shed some light on a fair few long-standing theories, having replaced ideas and opinions with hard evidence.

One such example comes in the form of a new study into the relationship between coffee, or more specifically caffeine, and a person’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Once something of a wild theory with little more than circumstantial evidence and hearsay to go on, there’s now just cause to believe that regular coffee consumption can indeed have a beneficial impact on Alzheimer’s risk.

The quite wonderfully-titled Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee took control of the study, which brought to light evidence suggesting that coffee drinkers may in general have around a 20% lower chance of developing the common and wholly devastating condition. By looking into the way in which certain nutrients and ingredients have an effect on both long and short-term cognitive health, the team of researchers was able to single out caffeine as a source of true benefit.

Rather than a simple wonder-drug anyone can take to increase their chances of a long and healthy life however, it was more a case of life-long coffee drinkers consuming a moderate amount of caffeine every day that showed the greatest resistance to Alzheimer's of all.

"The majority of human epidemiological studies suggest that regular coffee consumption over a lifetime is associated with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer's Disease, with an optimum protective effect occurring with three to five cups of coffee per day," wrote assistant neuroepidemiology professor Dr Arfran Ikram, one of the paper’s authors.

Though not to be interpreted as any kind of silver bullet, Europe’s leading Alzheimer's charity also supported the findings of the study.

"Cognitive decline is a feature of aging, and although some changes can be expected in all of us, there is some evidence that diet and lifestyle may be related to cognition,” commented Alzheimer Europe vice chairman, Dr Iva Holmerova.

“In fact epidemiological studies suggest that certain lifestyle factors and nutritional elements, including the consumption of coffee and caffeine, may help to slow age-related cognitive decline seen in the older generation."

So while far from something of a green-light to go gorging on coffee and nothing else in hope of enjoying a long, happy and fruitful life, the findings do indeed make food for thought. As time goes by, we seem to be learning more and more about the true health benefits of coffee and related products and slowly but surely quashing many theories about coffee’s supposedly negative effects.

From diabetes-prevention to improved memory function and of course the undeniable perk in productivity a simple cup of coffee is known to assist with, there really aren’t many everyday pleasures that deliver such an array of benefits.