Is coffee bad for you? It can have many health benefits — as long as you drink it in moderation
Coffeeisn't bad for you, as long as you drink it in moderation.
- Coffee can have many
healthbenefits, such as boosting energy, providing essential nutrients, and reducing your risk for long-term health problems like heart disease or type 2 diabetes.
- However, coffee can be unhealthy if you drink too much or add too much sugar — here's how to know if you're drinking the right amount.
- This article was medically reviewed by Jason R. McKnight, MD, MS, a family medicine physician and clinical assistant professor at Texas A&M College of Medicine.
It's estimated that 49% of US adults drink coffee daily. But is it good or bad for your health? Research has found some advantages and some potential disadvantages, depending on how much you drink.
Here's what you should know about the benefits and risks of drinking coffee, and how much you should drink to gain its positive health effects.
Coffee boosts energy and helps you focusCoffee promotes concentration and alertness, allowing a break from the morning fog and giving you a useful energy boost. That's because it's packed with
The caffeine in coffee is a psychoactive drug that changes mood to reflect that feeling of attentiveness, concentration, and contentment through stimulation of the central nervous system. These effects can usually last around four hours.
For reference, in an 8-ounce cup of coffee, there is about 133 milligrams (mg) of caffeine — compared to just 53 mg in the same amount of tea and just 65 mg in a 12-ounce soft drink.
Coffee may help relieve migraine headachesAt the onset of a migraine headache, the blood vessels in your head enlarge and increase their blood flow. The caffeine in coffee causes vasoconstriction, or narrowing of those vessels, which restricts the blood flow and can help reduce pain.
Coffee may improve long-term healthA study published in 2006 in the journal Diabetes Care found that younger and middle-aged women had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes through coffee consumption, whether decaffeinated or regular. These results suggest that it's not just the caffeine that is of benefit when it comes to keeping insulin levels steady. "Coffee is also thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease leading to heart attacks and stroke thanks to the antioxidants and micronutrients present," says Chloe Paddison RDN, LD, owner of Cureative Nutrition, a private
While coffee won't contain a huge percentage of your daily recommended value for any nutrients, it does contain the following vitamins and minerals:
- Niacin. A cup of coffee has about 0.5mg of niacin, a powerful B vitamin that provides benefits for skin and digestive health.
- Potassium. A cup of coffee has about 16mg of potassium, which helps regulate your heartbeat and supports muscle and nerve function.
- Magnesium. A cup of coffee has about 7mg of magnesium, an important regulating enzyme that helps maintain strong bones and a healthy heart.
Some coffee drinks contain unhealthy ingredients
But it matters how you drink your coffee. "Coffee can be very beneficial, unless we are adding loads of sugar and abusing the frequency," Paddison says. "You don't have to drink black coffee to reap the benefits, but we have to be mindful of how we flavor it."At popular coffee spots like Starbucks, liquid sugar flavoring is pumped liberally into many drinks. A good example is the White Chocolate Mocha drink — the large-size beverage contains 43o calories, with 53 grams of sugar and 18 grams of fat. Advertisement
Too much coffee can have adverse health effects
Coffee affects everyone differently. Some people have a higher tolerance for its stimulating effects, while others can get jittery off just one cup.
If you have a low tolerance, or drink more coffee than you're used to, you may experience the following physical symptoms:
How much coffee you should drinkTo get the health benefits of coffee and minimize the risks, the Mayo Clinic recommends drinking no more than four 8-oz cups of coffee a day, which is the equivalent of 400 mg of caffeine. Advertisement
However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, adolescents 12 to 18 years old should only drink one cup of coffee a day. In addition, pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to less than two cups per day.
The bottom line
Overall, it's important to pay attention to how coffee makes you feel. Some people may be more sensitive to the effects, especially if they aren't used to consuming caffeinated drinks every day. But, as long as you try to stick to four 8-oz cups or fewer each day, coffee can have many health benefits.
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