Answer: As long as one does not have adverse reactions to coffee or stimulants, coffee may offer more health benefits than most other beverages when consumed in moderation (from one to six 8oz cups per day). Caffeinated coffee is predominately water with its main “active” ingredient being caffeine, which belongs to a class of compounds called methylxanthines. Methylxanthines are found in more than 60 species of plants including coffee, tea and cocoa plants. Coffee also contains very small (not necessarily significant) amounts of antioxidants and other substances.
"Overall, the research shows that coffee is far more healthful than it is harmful," says Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist at Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies, which conducts its own medical research and tracks coffee studies from around the world.
Caffeine intake can do the following: 1) increase free-fatty acid mobilization from fat cells, potentially sparing your body’s use of carbohydrate stores (glycogen) (these affects have led endurance athletes to use coffee as a performance enhancing substance); 2) stimulate the central nervous system; 3) potentially increase blood pressure in non-habitual users; 4) increase energy expenditure and thus is used as a common weight loss aid.
Harvard researchers calculate that downing one to three cups of caffeinated coffee daily can reduce diabetes risk by single digits. And having six cups or more each day slashed men's risk by 54% and women's by 30%.
Though scientists caution "more research is needed" their findings are similar to those in a less-publicized Dutch study. It's the latest of hundreds of studies suggesting that coffee may indeed be healthy, especially in higher amounts.
At least six studies indicate that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are up to 80% less likely to develop Parkinson's, with three showing the more they drink, the lower the risk. Additional research shows at least two cups daily can reduce risk of colon cancer by 25%, cirrhosis of the liver by 80% and cut the risk of gallstones by nearly 50%.
Coffee may even offset some of the damage caused by other vices. Smokers and heavy drinkers who regularly drink large amounts of coffee have less heart disease and liver damage compared to those who don't.
Coffee is one of the most widely researched substances on the planet. Caffeine found in coffee and tea is the most common drug consumed in the world. Not everyone tolerates caffeine well, and it is easy enough to tell if you fall into that category as you will likely experience nervousness, sweating or simply an uncomfortable feeling. As long as it does not bother you - have a cup, two or three . . . and enjoy.
Coffee consumption guidelines
Worldwide coffee is generally considered safe when consumed in moderation. A solid example of responsible guidelines comes from the Canadian government’s Guidelines to Healthy Eating:
- Limit caffeine intake to 400-450 mgs/day (three 8 oz cups of caffeinated coffee)
- Pregnant and breast feeding women limit intake to 300 mgs/day (we generally suggest none or a maximum of 100 mgs/d during this period)
- Limit children 10-12 years to 85 mgs/day; 7-9 year to 62.5/day; 4-6 years to 45mgs/day