Nearly 90 percent of American adults drink a cup of coffee at some point during the day, and most Americans drink two. Coffee is the most common way adults consume caffeine — beyond that taken in from black teas, colas, energy drinks and chocolate — making caffeine the most widely used psychoactive drug.
To take a closer look at the health effects of coffee, scientists from several medical schools, including the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, reviewed over 95 studies of what is for so many a cherished morning ritual. They found no long-term health risks from drinking several cups of coffee a day and evidence that, in fact, coffee offers some health benefits. Here is what they reported.
It’s always a good idea to pay attention to the amount or timing of your caffeine intake as it relates to the way you feel or ability to get a good night’s sleep.
Coffee drinkers live longer, too. People who drink two to five cups of coffee daily have a lower chance of dying from any cause, and this is true for those who drink either decaf or caffeinated coffee.
Coffee contains hundreds of biologically active ingredients other than caffeine, any of which could decrease inflammation, improve bacteria in the gut and help control blood sugar levels, so it’s not completely certain if caffeine alone or a combination of ingredients in coffee are responsible for the health benefits of drinking coffee.
Three to five cups of coffee, equivalent to about 400 milligrams of caffeine, a day seems to be a safe amount for most people, with one exception — pregnant women should be cautious about their caffeine intake. High caffeine consumption during pregnancy may result in babies with low birthweight. Mothers-to-be should aim for 200 milligrams a day, or about 12 ounces of coffee during pregnancy.
The negative effects of caffeine usually show up as the result of very high intake in the form of energy drinks or shots, particularly when mixed with alcohol.
While there appears to be a number of health benefits to drinking coffee, the evidence just isn’t strong enough to recommend drinking coffee for disease prevention, but the good news is that your daily java habit can fit right in with a healthy lifestyle. The review was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.