Is coffee healthy or not? Here’s how much you should drink — and how much is too much

Jay Cannon USA TODAY Published 1:55 PM EDT Aug 25, 2019

Whether it’s an iced coffee on a summer morning, a hot cup before work or a warm latte on a snowy day, there is no doubt that Americans love coffee – or at least its caffeine.

We use it to wake up, stay focused and get work done.

But two age-old questions about the world’s most widely used psychoactive substance linger: How much coffee is too much? And is it actually good for your health?

Studies around the world have attempted to address coffee’s health effects to varying results. One study will say coffee is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, while a health professional will say it can lead to higher risk of the condition.

When it comes to a drink downed by roughly two-thirds of American adults each day, answers to such simple questions are surprisingly elusive.

First, go easy on cream and sugar

As long as you limit cream and sugar, coffee isn’t fattening like other caffeine-based substances such as energy drinks and soda. The calorie content in a plain cup of brewed coffee is next to nothing, and there’s no fat either.

But not everyone drinks their coffee black, as any Starbucks menu suggests.

Loading up a coffee with too much cream or sugar can drown out some of the positive health associations it provides.

“We know that sugar has adverse effects,” Penny Kris-Etherton, a nutrition professor at Penn State University, told the American Heart Association.

“Even if you add sugar and don’t exceed your calorie needs, you’re still negating some of the benefits because sugar is a negative food ingredient.”

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How much coffee is too much?

There’s ongoing dissent in the health community about how much coffee one should drink.

Among recent studies, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded in March that six eight-ounce cups or more per day can increase risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%. The study examined nearly 350,000 individuals.

Similarly, a 2013 study by University of South Carolina researchers found men and women under the age of 55 who consume an average of more than 28 cups per week (four per day) were more closely associated with death over the course of the 32-year-long study.

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But other research has found that even extremely high coffee intake may be safe. One study partially funded by the British Heart Foundation said you can safely drink 25 cups of coffee per day. It should be noted, however, that the study examined only about 8,000 people around the United Kingdom.

Multiple studies have found that a daily coffee intake of four cups is a safe amount. Even federal dietary guidelines suggest three to five eight-ounce cups of coffee per day (providing up to 400 milligrams of caffeine) can be a part of a healthy diet.

Dr. Steven Nissen, Chief Academic Officer of the Heart and Vascular Institute at the Cleveland Clinic, told USA TODAY there isn’t a specific daily limit that would apply to everyone, but drinking more than four to five cups provides for more caffeine than he would recommend.

“Keep in mind that the biological half-life of caffeine is seven to nine hours. So, if you have a bunch of coffee in the morning, it’ll be gone by bedtime. But, if you drink it all day long and you really load up, you may have insomnia, which really is an issue,” said Nissen.

Not all people react to caffeine in the same way, so if you are feeling some of the negative symptoms of the substance, like insomnia or anxiety, don’t be afraid to scale back or cut off your coffee intake.

But is coffee good for you?

Many studies, like the ones cited above, suggest that up to four cups of coffee is a safe amount, but is it actually beneficial for you?

Several studies associate normal coffee consumption with health benefits, but they don’t prove causation.

According to the previously mentioned AJCN study, people who don’t drink coffee have a 11% higher chance of cardiovascular disease than those who consume one to two cups per day. The study found decaf drinkers had a 7% higher chance of developing cardiovascular disease as well.

A study from the National Institutes of Health published similar findings: those who drank at least three cups of coffee daily had a 10 percent lower risk of death. The review examined over 400,000 men and women ages 50 to 71.

Additionally, two studies in the Annals of Internal Medicine supported the idea that a few cups of coffee is linked to a longer life.

One study examining over 185,000 Americans reported an 18% decreased chance of death compared to non-drinkers. The other study, comprised of more than 520,000 people across Europe, also found that people who drink several cups per day had a lower risk of death than non-drinkers.

However, it’s important to note that these studies are simply observing trends between coffee consumption and health; they don’t determine if coffee actually leads to health benefits.

Along those lines, Nissen staunchly opposed the notion that coffee actively decreases risk for cardiovascular disease.

“I don’t buy it for a moment,” he said. “These are what are called observational studies, they’re not optimized control trials. They’re poor in quality. They’re not reliable. I would not drink caffeine to lower your risk of heart disease.”

Nissen views coffee as somewhat of a neutral substance – it won’t actively benefit your health, but a safe amount of it is not necessarily bad for you either.

“My advice to patients is if you like coffee and you want to drink it, it’s probably safe. Unless, of course, you have heart rhythm problems, where you can see some increased risk of palpitations,” Nissen said.

“With that exception, I don’t think there’s any evidence for harm, but I don’t think there’s any evidence for benefit.”

Specialty types of coffee, however, like French press coffee, boiled Scandinavian brew and espresso, possess a powerful cholesterol-booster and can raise cholesterol levels by 6 to 8 percent.

What about for children and teens?

Of course, caffeine is not limited to adults, and caffeine intake for those 18 and under should be more closely monitored, as you might expect.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests kids aged 12 to 18 limit caffeine use to 100 milligrams per day — about one cup of coffee, one to two cups of tea or two to three sodas.

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Though few and far between, there are nightmare stories involving teens and caffeine.

Davis Allen Cripe, a 16-year-old high schooler from South Carolina, died in 2017 from a caffeine overdose when he drank a large Diet Mountain Dew, a cafe latte from McDonald’s and an energy drink all within about two hours.

As for those 12 and under, there is no definitive amount that can be considered safe for all ages.

Keeping a close eye on the caffeine intake of younger ones can help prevent some of the negative side-effects, like anxiety, diarrhea and dehydration.

Follow Jay Cannon on Twitter: @JayTCannon

Published 1:55 PM EDT Aug 25, 2019

  • New research presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference in Manchester examined the effects of coffee on arterial stiffness—an increase in which can increase your chances of issues like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease.
  • Researchers found a change of less than one percent in the arterial stiffness of heavy coffee drinkers and those who drank less than one cup of coffee a day.

Many people can’t live without their morning fix of coffee, and you might even find yourself reaching for a third, or fourth, cup for an afternoon pick-me-up. So you might find yourself wondering, is that even safe?

Sound like you? Then you were probably thrilled when the headlines came out earlier this month saying that drinking 25 cups of coffee a day was just fine for your health. Reading further, some stories went on to say that drinking over two dozen cups a day had the same effect on your arteries as just one.

Like most things in science, as it turns out, it’s not quite so simple.

In new study presented at the British Cardiovascular Society Conference, researchers divided over 8,500 participants into three groups: those who drank one cup of coffee a day, those who drank three or fewer cups per day, and those who drank more than three cups a day. It was in this last group where the 25-cups-a-day stat came in: People who drank more than 25 cups a day were excluded from the analysis, but people who drank 25 were still included in the three-plus group.

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The average self-reported coffee consumption in the group of highest coffee drinkers was five cups a day. (There was no definition for cup size). There were over 1,500 people in this group who reported drinking between three and 25 cups per day, but only two people reported a 25 cup-per-day intake.

When researchers compared the groups, they found there was less than a one percent change in arterial stiffness—an increase in which can increase your chances of issues like high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease—in the people who drank less than one cup a day and those who drank between one and three cups daily. Same held true for those in the highest group.

It is important to note, however, that researchers only focused on one aspect of heart health—arterial stiffness, study author Kenneth Fung, Ph.D., William Harvey Research Institute at Queen Mary University of London, told Bicycling. The researchers did not set out to advise people on the coffee consumption safety overall.

Plus, coffee can affect your heart health in other ways that the study did not dig into. Too much caffeine has been found to cause an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. Additionally, too much caffeine can cause you get jittery, have an abnormal heart rhythm, or insomnia—which might happen if you try to consume the 25 cups reported by some on the upper end of the study.

When you look at the average of the people in the high-consumption group, which was five cups a day, that falls more in line with what previous research has found regarding coffee and heart health. Research back in May determined that six cups of coffee was the upper limit for safe consumption, since people who drank more than that had a 22 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Bottom line: Using two 25-cup-per-day drinkers is not enough to draw a firm conclusion about the safety of that high an intake. Plus, it is possible that if they had a larger group of 25-cup-per-day drinkers, the researchers may have noticed a different pattern.

So until that research is undertaken, your best bet seems to be, like many things in the health field, the moderation game. To play it safe, limit your cups of coffee to what you can count on one hand: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day, which is roughly what you get in four to five cups of coffee.

Jordan Smith Digital Editor Her love of all things outdoors came from growing up in the Black Hills of South Dakota, and her passion for running was sparked by local elementary school cross-country meets.

Three cups of coffee a day ‘may have health benefits’

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption The effects of caffeine can vary from person to person

Moderate coffee drinking is safe, and three to four cups a day may have some health benefits, according to a large review of studies, in the BMJ.

It found a lower risk of liver disease and some cancers in coffee drinkers, and a lower risk of dying from stroke – but researchers could not prove coffee was the cause.

Too much coffee during pregnancy could be harmful, the review confirmed.

Experts said people should not start drinking coffee for health reasons.

The University of Southampton researchers collected data on the impact of coffee on all aspects of the human body, taking into account more than 200 studies – most of which were observational.

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Compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank about three cups of coffee a day appeared to reduce their risk of getting heart problems or dying from them.

The strongest benefits of coffee consumption were seen in reduced risks of liver disease, including cancer.

But Prof Paul Roderick, co-author of the study, from the faculty of medicine at University of Southampton, said the review could not say if coffee intake had made the difference.

“Factors such as age, whether people smoked or not and how much exercise they took could all have had an effect,” he said.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Everything in moderation, including coffee

The findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee drinking so, overall, his message on coffee was reassuring.

“There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks,” he said.

The NHS recommends pregnant women have no more than 200mg of caffeine a day – two mugs of instant coffee – because too much can increase the risk of miscarriage.

This review suggests women at risk of fractures should also cut back on coffee.

For other adults, moderate caffeine intake equates to 400mg or less per day – or three to four cups of coffee – but that isn’t the only drink (or food) to bear in mind.

How much caffeine in my drink?

  • one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • one mug of tea: 75mg
  • one can of cola: 40mg
  • one 250ml can of energy drink: up to 80mg
  • bar of plain chocolate: less than 25mg
  • bar of milk chocolate: less than 10mg

The researchers say coffee drinkers should stick to “healthy coffees” – which avoid extra sugar, milk or cream, or a fatty snack on the side.

And they are calling for rigorous clinical trials on coffee intake to find out more about the potential benefits to health.

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At present, the researchers said pinning down exactly how coffee might have a positive impact on health was “difficult” but it could be down to the effects of anti-oxidants and anti-fibrotics, which prevent or slow damage to cells in the body.

Commenting on the BMJ review, Eliseo Guallar, from the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said there was still uncertainty about the effects of higher levels of coffee intake.

But he added: “Moderate coffee consumption seems remarkably safe, and it can be incorporated as part of a healthy diet by most of the adult population.”

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Best not to opt for sticky, sweet snacks with your espresso

Tom Sanders, professor emeritus of nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, said coffee drinkers may be healthier people to start with – and that could skew the findings.

“Coffee is known to cause headaches in some people and it also increases the urge to go to the toilet – some people chose not to drink coffee for these reasons.

“Patients with abnormal heart rhythms are often advised to drink de-caffeinated coffee. Caffeine also acutely increases blood pressure, albeit transiently. ”

20+ Good Health Reasons To Drink Coffee

There are good reasons to drink coffee and there are a few reasons not to. This article is for those that are looking for reasons to keep drinking it.

After all, you may have a caffeine-hater in your life. You know the type – they’re always telling you what’s bad for your health.

Here’s a list of some good reasons to drink coffee. Memorize this list – so the next time you encounter your favorite coffee-hater you can pull out one of these babies.

While you’re at it, you can add the words “from a peer-reviewed scientific journal” — that’ll really get your pet coffee-hater frothing at the mouth.

In all seriousness, here are some scientific reasons for drinking coffee in moderation.

Top 11 Coffee Health Benefits

  1. Cut the Pain
    Two cups of coffee can cut post-workout muscle pain by up to 48%. From the Journal of Pain, March 2007 ()
  2. Increase your fiber intake
    A cup of brewed coffee represents a contribution of up to 1.8 grams of fiber of the recommended intake of 20-38 grams. From the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry ().
  3. Protection against cirrhosis of the liver
    Of course, you could just cut down on the alcohol intake. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (). Another more recent study also showed coffee’s liver protecting benefits. . Yet another study showed that both coffee and decaffeinated coffee lowered the liver enzyme levels of coffee drinkers. This study was published in the Hepatology Journal.
  4. Lowered risk of Type 2 Diabetes
    Those who consumed 6 or more cups per day had a 22% lower risk of diabetes. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (). A recent review of research conducted by Harvard’s Dr. Frank Hu showed that the risk of type II diabetes decreases by 9% for each daily cup of coffee consumed. Decaf coffee decreased risk by 6% per cup.
  5. Lowered risk of Alzheimer’s disease
    There is considerable evidence that caffeine may protect against Alzheimer’s disease. From the European Journal of Neurology (). A recent study also isolated the compounds in roasted coffee that may be responsible for preventing the build-up of the brain plaque believed to cause the disease.
  6. Reduces suicide risk and Depression
    A 10-year study of 86,000 female nurses shows a reduced risk of suicide in the coffee drinkers. From the Archives of Internal Medicine (). Another study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that women who drink 4 or more cups of coffee were 20% less likely to suffer from depression. .
  7. Protection against Parkinson’s
    People with Parkinson’s disease are less likely to be smokers and coffee drinkers than their healthy siblings. Just make sure you don’t get lung cancer on the way. From the Archives of Neurology (). Even newer research out of Sweden revealed that drinking coffee reduces the risk of Parkinson’s even when genetic factors come into play. . Yet another study (published here) found that caffeine combined with EHT (a compound found in coffee beans) provided protective benefits to rats that were genetically predisposed to developing Parkinson’s.
  8. Coffee drinkers have less risk of heart disease. Korean researchers found that study participants who consumed 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day were less likely to show the beginning signs of heart disease. The study. Other dietary factors should also be noted as Koreans typically have a different diet than do Westerners. A more recent study conducted in Brazil found that those that consume at least three cups of coffee a day tend to develop less calcification in their coronary arteries. A 2019 study confirmed that coffee doesn’t cause hardening of the arteries even among the study participants who drank upwards of 25 cups of coffee per day.
  9. Coffee drinkers have stronger DNA. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that coffee drinkers have DNA with stronger integrity since the white blood cells of coffee drinkers had far fewer instances of spontaneous DNA strand breakage. Study abstract.
  10. Lower Risk of Multiple Sclerosis. Recent research showed that at least 4 cups of coffee a day may help protect against the development and reoccurrence of MS. It is believed that the coffee prevents the neural inflammation that possibly leads to the disease developing. The study was published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
  11. Coffee reduces colorectal cancer risk. Even moderate consumption of coffee can reduce the odds of developing colorectal cancer by 26%. This protective benefit increases with more consumption. The study is described in detail here.

Recent research has also shown that coffee may boost a woman’s sex drive, but the fact that it’s only been tested on rats somehow takes the shine off.

More Reasons to Drink Coffee…

New research concerning coffee and health is being conducted all the time. Here are some more of the latest studies.

  1. Reduced Liver Cancer Risk: Researchers at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center found that those that consume 1-3 cups of coffee a day have a 29% reduced risk of developing liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most common type. Src.
  2. Less Gout Risk: Yet another reason: Risk for developing gout (in men) decreases with increasing coffee consumption. This is a large study of over 50,000 men ().
  3. Longevity: Greek boiled coffee linked to longevity and heart health. –. Another study published in the June 17, 2008, issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine showed that women who consume coffee had a lower risk of death from cancer, heart disease, and other factors, which therefore promotes a longer lifespan. Yet another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that coffee drinkers were at less risk of dying prematurely from diseases like diabetes, heart disease and forms of cancer. . Another study from Japan found that men who drink at least 3 cups of coffee per day have a 24% less risk of dying early from disease. Yet another study from Harvard also confirmed that those who drink 1-5 cups of coffee a day avoid diseases linked to premature death. The study. A Japanese-based study also found similar results when it comes to coffee and longevity. The study. Two more 2017 research studies have confirmed what earlier studies have found. Those that drink coffee live longer than those who don’t. The American study is found here and the European-based study is found here.
  4. Prevents Retinal Damage. A Cornell University Study showed that coffee may prevent retinal damage due to oxidative stress. Caffeine isn’t the culprit here, but chlorogenic acid (CLA), which is one of the strong antioxidants found in the coffee bean.
  5. Black coffee prevents cavities. Researchers out of Brazil found that strong black coffee kills the bacteria on teeth that promote tooth decay. Adding milk or sugar to coffee negates this benefit. –
  6. Coffee may protect against periodontal disease. As part of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, Dental Longitudinal Study coffee consumption and dental health among 1,152 men was tracked from 1968-1998. The researchers found that coffee didn’t promote gum disease and actually showed a protective benefit.
  7. Coffee may protect against melanoma. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that melanoma risk decreases with coffee consumption and that this risk decreases with each cup consumed. .
  8. The USDA’s 2015 dietary guidelines recommend it for better health. They advise people that having 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day is good for their overall health and reduces the risk of disease. However, they report that adding sugar, cream, or flavored creamers quickly negates the potential benefits. The complete report here. (pdf)
  9. Reduced heart attack mortality risk. Researchers found that those who drink two or more cups of coffee daily after having a heart attack have the least risk of dying from the heart attack. The study.
  10. It helps people get along with co-workers better. A study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that workers/ workplaces who consume coffee have a more positive view of self and others than do workers/ workspaces that do not consume coffee. Coffee consumption also enhanced participation in workplace group activities.

Coffee’s Health Promoting Antioxidants

Coffee Berries

Coffee’s health-promoting properties are likely due to the antioxidants naturally occurring in the coffee bean.

  • A typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than typical servings of grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, and oranges.
  • Antioxidants in coffee may dampen inflammation, reducing the risk of disorders related to it, like cardiovascular disease.
  • A study from Monash University even further demonstrated the antioxidant capacities of brewed coffee.

Just drink decaf then?

While there are still some health benefits to drinking decaf coffee, most of the above studies showed that caffeinated coffee had the greatest benefits.

This is due to some of the coffee’s antioxidant capacity being removed during the decaffeination process.

How Safe or Beneficial is Coffee Then?

For most people, coffee can be a healthy part of the diet. It is fine to enjoy a couple of cups a day unless you can’t control your consumption.

However, coffee may not be beneficial for everyone. Those with certain heart conditions, caffeine sensitivity, and women who are pregnant should stick to decaf or tea.

Also, those that drink coffee in excess may be negating some of the benefits because of the large amounts of caffeine they are consuming. These people may benefit from a caffeine detox to reset their caffeine tolerance to more moderate levels.

The key is moderation, which is typically 2-3 cups a day, to get the coffee health benefits but avoid the negative issues associated with too much caffeine.

Written by James Foster, last updated on November 5, 2019

You can drink up to 25 cups of coffee a day without harming your heart: study

Coffee lovers rejoice.

You can drink up to 25 cups of java without upping your chances of a heart attack or stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers out of the U.K. studied more than 8,000 people and their coffee-drinking habits and found that drinking up to 25 cups a day was no worse for the arteries than drinking less than a cup a day.

READ MORE: Caffeine withdrawal — What happens when you don’t get your coffee fix

The study says that despite previous beliefs that drinking coffee increases arterial stiffness (which can lead to a heart attack or stroke), having over 20 cups of daily joe was not associated with stiffer arteries.

The research was partially funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is being presented at the British Cardiovascular Society conference in Manchester, the Guardian reports.

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To determine how coffee affects the heart, researchers divided participants into three groups: those who drink less than one cup a day, those who drink between one and three cups a day and those who drink more than three.

(People who drink over 25 cups were excluded.)

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1:32 Scientists warn world’s coffee species at risk of extinction Scientists warn world’s coffee species at risk of extinction

The participants underwent MRI heart scans and infrared pulse wave tests.

“The associations between drinking coffee and artery stiffness measures were corrected for contributing factors like age, gender, ethnicity, smoking status, height, weight, how much alcohol someone drank, what they ate and high blood pressure,” the BHF wrote.

According to the study’s findings, moderate and heavy coffee drinkers were “most likely to be male, smoke and consume alcohol regularly.”

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In a statement, Metin Avkiran, associate medical director at the BHF, said this research will hopefully lead to more discoveries about coffee and its effects.

“There are several conflicting studies saying different things about coffee, and it can be difficult to filter what we should believe and what we shouldn’t,” Avkiran said.

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“This research will hopefully put some of the media reports in perspective as it rules out one of the potential detrimental effects of coffee on our arteries.”

While the report says large amounts of coffee are fine for the heart, a researcher from the study told CNN that their findings do not mean it’s a good idea to drink 25 cups a day.

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0:24 Never get between a Canadian and their coffee Never get between a Canadian and their coffee

“We’re not telling people to drink 25 cups a day, per se,” Kenneth Fung, who led the data analysis, told the outlet.

“If anything, if you drink within recommended guidelines, then we don’t expect to see an increase in arterial stiffness compared with those who drink one cup or less a day.”

Other reports have also said caffeine isn’t harmful.

Coffee may be good for health

A 2017 study conducted by researchers from the universities of Southampton and Edinburgh found that drinking three or four cups of coffee per day was more likely to benefit your health than harm it. In fact, they suggest drinking this amount decreased your risk of death by 17 per cent.

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And while there have been countless studies about the benefits and risks of drinking coffee, researchers note that for some, more can be even better.

READ MORE: 8 unhealthy ways to start your morning

According to a 2014 study, coffee may also help to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers out of Harvard found that people who “increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had an 11 per cent lower risk for Type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption.”

How much is too much caffeine?

Health Canada recommends adults should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400 milligrams per day, registered dietitian Andy De Santis previously told Global News. That’s about three cups of coffee, eight ounces each — or three short cups of coffee from Starbucks. Tim Hortons’ smallest size is 10 ounces.

READ MORE: Health Canada warns about dangers of mixing caffeine and alcohol

De Santis adds there is no evidence that suggests caffeine intake at this level will cause any harm to a healthy adult.

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“In some people who are sensitive to it, caffeine may lead to anxiety, insomnia and stomach issues. These people need to be mindful of their caffeinated coffee intake,” he said.

Coffee contains caffeine — a well-known stimulant and performance enhancer — and a variety of other potentially healthful compounds, he adds, which may partially explain why people who drink coffee tend to live longer.

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1:04 Are you drinking too much coffee? Are you drinking too much coffee?

It’s important to note that pregnant women and people who are negatively affected by caffeine should limit their intake.

Nanci Guest, a registered dietitian, PhD candidate and caffeine and genetics researcher at the University of Toronto, previously told Global News that if your body doesn’t handle coffee well, you shouldn’t feel pressured to drink it.

She adds that people who have trouble sleeping or insomnia should not be consuming this much coffee during the day, especially later into the evening. She says people who have jitters may also have negative reactions to upping their caffeine dose.

—With files from Arti Patel

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

A team of German researchers, led by the molecular biologists Judith Haendeler and Joachim Altschmied, thinks it has discovered clues about how coffee works its caffeine-fueled magic on our heart health and how much caffeine we should drink each day to see the best benefits.

By studying caffeinated lab mice and dosing human tissues with caffeine, the researchers discovered how a jolt of the stimulant could improve the way cells inside our blood vessels work — essentially, by making certain proteins inside older adult cells perform more like young and nimble ones. The study was published Thursday in the journal PLOS Biology.

“When you drink four to five cups of espresso,” Altschmied told Business Insider, “that seems to improve the function of the powerhouses of our cells, and therefore seems to be protective.”

Scientists have for years noticed that people who drink coffee seem to be less likely to die from all sorts of causes, including heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. Perhaps the best evidence yet for this comes from two massive studies: one of more than 400,000 people in the US by the National Institutes of Health, and another of more than 500,000 Europeans. Both studies found that regular coffee drinkers were less likely to die from any cause than people who don’t sip a daily brew.

Coffee is also associated with a whole host of other health benefits, including a lower risk of liver disease (cirrhosis), a lower risk of developing certain kinds of cancer, lower rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s, and a reduced risk of depression. It’s also great for your heart — people who drink three or four cups a day may be 19% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.

Altschmied said he hoped his new study would debunk the old advice that people with heart problems shouldn’t drink coffee, and he argues that drinking the equivalent of about four shots of espresso a day could help reduce the risk of heart attacks, especially for people who are obese or prediabetic.

“It will not replace other things,” he said. “Keep on doing your sports, eat healthy, and add coffee to your diet.”

If you don’t like the taste, green tea has similar levels of caffeine and could also be an effective way to boost heart health.

It’s important not to overdo it with the new recommendation, as too much coffee can quicken your heartbeat and cause other health problems. But drinking up to six cups a day should be OK, cardiologists say, and may even reduce arrhythmias in people with irregular heartbeats.

One caveat: The study wasn’t done in humans — only in human tissues and lab mice. What works in a hypercontrolled environment of mice, dosed with very specific amounts of caffeine, may not be the same as what happens when you drink a cup of joe at home.

“If I had four cups of espresso and you had four cups of espresso, we cannot guarantee that we reach the same level in the blood,” Altschmied said.

He also offers a word of caution: Because caffeine can make blood vessels grow, providing more oxygen to fuel tumors, the coffee-drinking advice might not hold for people who have cancer.

“Where people have a diagnosed tumor, we would say better take your hands off the coffee,” Altschmied said. “But if you’re otherwise healthy, it will not harm you, and it might help your heart and circulatory system stay better functional for a longer time.”

This post originally appeared on Business Insider.

How Much Coffee Is Too Much? A New Study Has the Answer

How many afternoons have you sluggishly moseyed over to the office coffee machine and wondered, Is this really my fourth cup of the day? Or wait, is it my fifth? We’ve all been there, but a new study shows refilling your cup too often could be hurting your health.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggests that drinking six or more cups of coffee per day may increase your risk of heart disease by up to 22%.

Researchers from the University of South Australia analyzed the health records and self-reported dietary patterns of 347,077 participants between the ages of 37 and 73. They also looked to see which study participants possessed a specific gene variant, called CYP1A2, that enables people to metabolize caffeine faster than those without the variant.

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Overall, the researchers found that people who said drank six or more cups of coffee a day were 22% more likely to develop cardiovascular disease during the study period, compared to those who drank one to two cups daily. They also concluded that this association was independent of genetic makeup; in other words, people with the caffeine-metabolising gene were not able to safely drink more than those who don’t have it.

The study authors believe that coffee (in large quantities) and heart problems may be linked because excess caffeine consumption can cause high blood pressure, a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. According to the World Health Organization, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, yet it’s also one of the most preventable.

“Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable or perhaps even nauseous,” said co-author Elina Hyppönen, director of the Australian Centre for Precision Health, in a press release. “That’s because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being.”

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That doesn’t mean that any and all coffee is bad for your heart, however. In fact, the researchers also found that participants who didn’t drink coffee at all—and those who drank decaf—also had higher rates of heart disease (11% and 7% higher, respectively) than those who drank one to two cups per day.

Previous research has found coffee is rich in antioxidants and may reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. That is, if it’s consumed in moderation. A 2017 review published in Food and Chemical Toxicology found that intake levels of up to 400 mg a day, or about four 8-ounce cups of coffee, are not associated with health risks for adults.

So no, there’s no reason to completely cut out coffee, but it is smart to pay attention to how much you’re really drinking. “Knowing the limits of what’s good for you and what’s not is imperative,” Hyppönen said in the press release. “As with many things, it’s all about moderation; overindulge and your health will pay for it.”

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FRIDAY, May 31, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From cappuccinos to cold brew, coffee is a morning must for many Americans, but is it healthy and how much is too much?

A University of South Australia study suggests a couple of cups to start your day probably won’t hurt — and may even be good for you. But drinking six or more cups of coffee a day can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 22%, the researchers found.

About one in four deaths in the United States is due to heart disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide.

That’s why Elina Hypponen and Ang Zhou of the Australian Center for Precision Health in Adelaide set out to discover the point when too much caffeine causes high blood pressure, a key heart disease risk factor. The tipping point: Six 8-ounce cups — each containing 75 milligrams (mg) of caffeine.

“Knowing the limits of what’s good for you and what’s not is imperative,” Hypponen said in a university news release. “Overindulge and your health will pay for it,” she added.

For the study, the researchers used a U.K. database of more than 300,000 adults, aged 37 to 73, to explore how the caffeine-metabolizing gene (CYP1A2) affected people’s ability to process caffeine and their risk for heart disease.

The investigators found that carriers of a gene variation were able to metabolize caffeine four times faster than others. But Hypponen said that doesn’t mean they can safely drink more coffee.

Coffee is the most popular beverage worldwide, with an estimated 3 billion cups consumed every day.

But Hypponen noted that a cup of coffee may mean different things to different people.

“If we assume one cup is … a standard measure of cup, it would approximately contain 75 mg of caffeine,” she said. “If we look at caffeine content only, a double espresso is roughly equivalent to a normal coffee.” A grand iced latte at Starbucks, meanwhile, contains up to 150 mg of caffeine.

2 cups of coffee

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