Latte lines stretch out the door as researchers continue debating the pros and cons of the daily java habit. But there’s good news for coffee lovers-many experts agree the health benefits likely outweigh the risks for most people.
In fact, when researchers compared coffee drinkers to nondrinkers, they found that those who consumed coffee were less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and dementia. In addition, coffee drinkers had fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems and strokes.
It’s important to note, however, that there is not a “cause and effect” link between coffee and disease prevention. It is possible that coffee drinkers have additional health advantages such as better diets, more exercise or protective genes. Early studies that bashed the benefits of “Morning Joe” also didn’t take other high-risk lifestyle habits into account when studying drinkers of that era such as inactivity and smoking.
It is important to note that heavy caffeine intake can raise blood pressure, as well as blood levels of the fight-or-flight chemical epinephrine (adrenaline). And large amount of caffeine have been proven to be extremely harmful in children and teens.
If you’re worried that you’re having too much of a good thing, consider these points:
- If you’re drinking so much coffee that it makes you jittery, reduce the amount you drink immediately.
- Protect your precious sleep by cutting off caffeine consumption by 2 p.m.
- If you’re pregnant, reduce your caffeine intake to the lowest level possible, like one cup per day.
- If you have high cholesterol or want to prevent it, use paper filters when brewing coffee. It will help filter out cafestol, a potent stimulator of LDL cholesterol levels.
- Avoid adding ingredients to your coffee that boosts the caloric content. A 6-ounce cup of black coffee has just 7 calories, but by adding liquid nondairy creamer, your calorie count goes up to about 48.
If you really want to improve your health, researchers suggest focusing less on your coffee consumption and more on increasing physical activity, quitting smoking and eating more whole grains.