Scientists have discovered that chemical compounds present in coffee - both regular and decaffeinated - can help to protect your liver.

Previous research has suggested that coffee has many health benefits, including providing support to the liver and preventing it from developing cancer. However, until now, it remained unclear whether these potential benefits extended to decaffeinated coffee.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in the US have reported in a study published in the journal Hepatology, that higher coffee consumption prevents the liver from abnormal enzymes - whether it's decaffeinated or not

The researchers used data from the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that recorded the coffee-drinking habits of 27,793 participants. The team measured blood levels of four enzymes, including aminotransferase (ALT), aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and gamma glutamyl transaminase (GGT), that indicate the health of an individual's liver. 

The results indicated that participants who consumed three or more cups of coffee a day, were about 25 percent less likely to have abnormal liver enzyme levels, compared to those who don't drink coffee. 

Interestingly, the researchers found similarly low enzyme levels in participants who consume decaffeinated coffee, indicating that the unique ingredient that promotes liver health is in the coffee, not the caffeine. The chemical compound behind this effect is not yet known, and further research is required to identify the reason behind the fascinating results.

"There are more than a thousand compounds in coffee," Qian Xiao, lead author of the study, told Nicholas Bakalar from The New York Times. "There are a few candidates, but I don't know which is responsible."

In the mean time, have an espresso to show your appreciation for this study, because we definitely know that coffee is not harming our liver.