Who can resist the deliciously rich and tempting aroma and flavour of a freshly brewed cup of coffee? Many of us rely on our daily cup(s) of java to help chase away the early morning grogginess or for a quick pick-me-up later in the day. Despite of it being one of the more favoured hot beverages in North America, coffee often gets a lot of backlash for supposedly being unhealthy and addictive if drunk in large amounts over a long period of time. So, does this mean that we should reduce or stop drinking coffee altogether?
Like many other contentious beverages and food items, coffee can be good or bad for us depending on how we drink it. Most health issues associated with coffee-drinking appear to be a result of drinking too much. In an interview published in a Harvard Health article, Dr. Eric Rimm explains that too much caffeine (more than 300 milligrams per day) can cause some of the symptoms that many may be familiar with – feeling jittery or anxious, heart palpitations, having trouble sleeping at night, and even higher blood pressure. While these symptoms may seem minor and temporary, there have been studies that have suggested more serious and long-term consequences of heavy coffee consumption, such as possibly causing bladder, pancreatic, or even esophageal cancer. However, many of these were older studies that have since been refuted (although esophageal cancer may still be a risk with drinking very hot beverages).
On the other hand, coffee has also been popping up on the news recently for some of its health benefits, including the possibility of daily drinking extending life expectancy. Some of its primary benefits, which are also why many of us are reaching for a cuppa a few times a day, include reducing tiredness and improving focus. While larger amounts of coffee could cause cardiovascular issues, moderate amounts can actually help protect people from them. According to Dr. Rimm, coffee contains several properties that may lower blood pressure as well as help regulate blood sugar. Some studies have even found coffee to lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as liver and uterine cancer.
As with anything else, there are risks associated with heavy coffee consumption so it is a good idea to moderate your daily cups if you have a tendency of drinking too much. According to Health Canada, the safe and healthy limit of coffee drinking for adults is 3 (8-ounce) cups a day. If, however, you find that you are reaching for a cup each time you hit an energy slump, then it may be important to look into alternative, healthy ways of improving your energy levels throughout the day.
“Coffee: Love it and leave it” (2016). Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu.
Schmerling, R.H. (2017). The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee – Harvard Health Blog. Retrieved from www.health.harvard.edu.