Food

Coffee: is it good or bad for you?

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How many cups of coffee do you need to have in the morning before you feel like a fully functioning human? One or two and then maybe one after lunch to wave off the four o’clock slump? At one time or another we’ve all tried to fend off tiredness with an extra cup of the black stuff only to end up feeling anxious and shaky.

According to the majority of advice, four cups is the maximum we should be relying on. Yet, it’s hard to ignore the constant influx of differing advice. Over the past two weeks alone we’ve been told that around three cups of coffee a day could help ward off heart disease by lowering your risk of palpitations, but if you’re pregnant drinking two daily coffees could increase your unborn child’s risk of obesity. Both claims were the result of studies and paint a confusing picture of coffee and its potential benefits.

Part of the issue is that coffee is one of the most studied ingredients and over the years there has been constant stream of conflicting information. So, how should we approach the dietary staple? Here’s what we know so far…

What are the known health benefits of coffee?
Studies have indicated that regularly drinking coffee could help reduce the risk of several health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and gout. A study in 2015 found that it could reduce your risk of premature death by up to 15 percent.

Coffee is a good source of antioxidants. According to a study by the University of Scranton in the US, a cup or two of joe every day is most Americans highest source of antioxidants.

What are the known risks of coffee?
Coffee is a stimulant that helps to boost your energy, however this means it can also affect your sleep pattern, which in turn can impact your mood and ability to concentrate.

Previous studies have also concluded that regular consumption of coffee can raise the risk of cardiovascular problems and earlier this year a judge in California ruled that coffee had to come with a health warning as it contains trace amounts of acrylamide, which can damage DNA. Interestingly, two years ago the World Health Organisation took coffee off of its list of possible carcinogens.

Should we be drinking coffee and if so, how much?
First and foremost, regardless of the positive conclusions some of these studies came to, experts don’t recommend those who don’t already drink coffee start purely to reap the health benefits.

If you are a coffee drinker though, the general consensus is that three-to-four cups a day is the maximum. However, this varies person-to-person as for some just one cup is enough to give you the boost and focus you need, but any more can tip you over the edge.

And in terms of what you should be ordering, a regular black coffee without milk or sugar is deemed healthiest. That said, this could very well have changed by next week…

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