Is Coffee Healthy For You?

How many coffee drinkers out there have ever asked themselves, “How much coffee is too much?” The first cup always goes down so quick, and before long the craving for a second or maybe even third cup of coffee is creeping up. Feeling a little drowsy after that nice big lunch and suddenly coffee starts screaming your name. We all know why we drink coffee. Coffee has caffeine and caffeine gives us energy. Caffeine is also addictive, and that is why for many the thought of facing a morning without coffee is unbearable. There are also ritualistic aspects of coffee. Many people simply enjoy the daily ritual of a cup of coffee with their morning news or over conversation with friends. Yet, almost all coffee drinkers at some point begin to think about cutting back or wondering whether their coffee habit is becoming detrimental to their health. The debate over coffee’s health benefits or lack thereof is a seemingly never-ending flow of contradictions. While one health expert will advise against drinking any, another will advocate drinking it in moderation, and yet another will praise its many benefits. So what is the truth about coffee? Can we give in to our urges and indulge in yet another cup, or should we protect our health and abstain? Fortunately for coffee drinkers, a growing body a research is starting to show that coffee when used in moderation can have significant health benefits. Let’s take a quick look at what the studies have found in response to some of the most common questions surrounding coffee.

How many cups of coffee can I safely drink a day?

A study completed by the Harvard School of Public Health has found that we can safely consume up to 6 cups of coffee a day without increasing our risk of death from any cause. It is important to note that in this study a cup of coffee is considered to be 8 ounces with 100mg of caffeine. As a point of comparison, a Grande size coffee from Starbucks is 16 ounces with around 330mg of caffeine. So while it seems that we can safely consume quite a lot of coffee a day, we should also be aware that there are short term side effects to drinking too much coffee. Depending on individual tolerance for caffeine, coffee can aggravate insomnia, increase anxiety, and cause irritability. As a good rule of thumb, if you are drinking so much coffee that you are feeling stressed, irritable, experiencing tremors or having trouble sleeping then you are drinking too much coffee. Remember that the caffeine in coffee is addictive, and should be consumed in moderation and as needed.

Are there any benefits to my health from drinking coffee?

Yes, according to the Harvard study and many other recent studies, coffee may be very beneficial in preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, and liver cirrhosis. Even more surprising though, is that the studies have actually found that regular coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease than non-coffee drinkers. Although there is still more research to be done, it is becoming more and more evident that coffee is more than just a means for caffeine delivery. The non-caffeine elements of coffee are proving to be very rich in antioxidants. This is great news for coffee drinkers, but it is important to remember that these studies are not yet definitive and that research is still underway to further prove these benefits.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t be drinking coffee?

Although somewhat controversial there have been quite a few studies that indicate high intakes of coffee during pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage. Once again, these studies are not definitive, but it is a risk that needs to be seriously considered. What is known for certain is that caffeine reaches the fetus, which is very sensitive to caffeine. There have also been some debates over whether those with high blood pressure should be drinking coffee. Studies have not found any indication that coffee consumption increases any of the risks associated with high blood pressure or further contributes to its cause. It may nonetheless be wise to exercise moderation when consuming coffee in this situation.

In summary, it seems that drinking coffee is not nearly as harmful as is often suggested, and quite possibly a lot more beneficial. For those who truly enjoy their coffee, it is safe to keep on drinking it. If you are trying to adopt a healthier lifestyle, focus your attention on eating better and increasing physical activity. Also, remember that coffee as discussed here means black coffee, not a Starbucks Frappuccino. Start adding large amounts of milk and sugar to your coffee and you will quickly outweigh any of the positive health benefits with negative ones. It is the pure coffee that offers the health benefits, and in terms of caffeinated beverages it is fair to say that coffee is one of the healthier choices out there.

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