Coffee’s many benefits and risks
Bold, earthy and robust — coffee bursts with flavors that energize an early morning and wake up a slow afternoon. But is this favorite drink also brimming with health benefits? The question of whether or not coffee is good for you has been a controversial health and nutrition topic for years. As it turns out, you could enjoy a number of benefits from drinking a few cups of coffee each day. Don’t put away that mug just yet!
Is coffee healthy?
Although 64% of Americans drink a cup or more a day, people have questioned the health benefits of coffee for years. Doctors often encouraged people to stop drinking coffee to avoid becoming addicted to caffeine — a stimulating compound that can speed up natural processes in your body and help you feel awake.
However, new research tells a different story about coffee’s health effects. One study showed that people who drank two to four 8-ounce cups of coffee a day had a lower risk of stroke, which happens when blood flow to your brain stops. This drink can also keep your blood vessels flexible in a way that lowers your risk of heart attack.
Coffee might even help slow down the aging process. It has special compounds that can reduce inflammation around your body. With less inflammation, you have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s, a disease that causes memory loss. Coffee even has ingredients called antioxidants that keep your body’s cells from getting damaged. The result? This drink may protect you against developing certain types of cancer and liver disease.
Who should avoid coffee?
Even though coffee can be healthy, it doesn’t help some people. If you feel jittery or anxious after drinking a cup, the caffeine might be too stimulating for you. Women who are pregnant may also want to limit the amount of coffee they drink. Doctors aren’t exactly sure how coffee and caffeine can affect an unborn baby’s development. However, current research suggests that having up to 200mg of caffeine a day doesn’t increase any risks. If you have high blood pressure or a heart condition, you might also limit or avoid coffee.
How much coffee should I drink?
To gain the most mental and physical benefits from coffee, follow these daily guidelines:
- Average adults can drink about four 8-ounce cups
- Pregnant women should have 12 ounces or less
- People with heart conditions should stick to one or two 8-ounce cups
Always listen to your body. If you have a half-cup and start feeling jumpy or sick, there’s no need to keep drinking. Do what feels right — if you don’t already enjoy coffee, you don’t need to start drinking it.
Tips to get the most from coffee
Keep these ideas in mind to enjoy even more health benefits from your daily coffee:
- Have your last cup before 2 p.m. It takes several hours for caffeine to wear off. Drinking coffee in the late afternoon or evening can keep you from falling asleep at bedtime.
- Sprinkle on cinnamon for flavor. It’ll taste great, and cinnamon may also help lower your cholesterol.
- Want even more antioxidants in your coffee? Skip the sugar and add some unsweetened cocoa powder. It may help lower your risk of heart disease.
- Stick with caffeine. Some studies have shown that decaffeinated coffee doesn’t reduce your risk of getting certain diseases the way caffeinated coffee can.
Could you use more energy? Visit mercy.com today to make an appointment with a primary care doctor. We can’t wait to share other healthy tips and habits that can help you find your get-up-and-go.
If coffee isn’t your thing, you can read more about kombucha and its benefits here.