On this rainy day, feeling like you can’t quite wake up, go ahead and let your mug runneth over with coffee: The latest science on java encourages regular and plentiful consumption.
An article published in the Annual Review of Nutrition looked at 127 meta-analysis studies on coffee-consumption and health, finding that the caffeinated beverage has a resounding number of health benefits.
Researchers from the University of Catania in Italy found evidence in the studies that drinking coffee every day lowers the risk of certain cancers, including breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial and prostate. Some studies pointed to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes. Prior research has shown that daily coffee drinkers have lower mortality rates compared to non-imbibers.
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These benefits are likely due to phytochemicals in coffee, which contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. And caffeine does more than just perk us up: it helps regulate the liver, insulin and glucose levels and helps repair DNA.
So how many cups a day is the right amount? Several studies pegged the “maximum benefit” at around four to five 8 oz cups a day, about a liter, or the equivalent to two grande Starbucks servings (380-475 mg). That’s a pretty generous amount.
But take care not to have too much more than that: 500 mg of caffeine a day can cause side-effects, like migraines, muscle tremors, accelerated heartbeat, and digestive problems. Because coffee is a diuretic, be sure to drink plenty of water to keep from getting dehydrated. (FYI, it would take something like 50-100 cups of coffee to have a lethal effect, according to USA Today.)
There is one good reason to curb your coffee consumption, the researchers found, and that’s if you’re pregnant: some studies established a link between caffeine and increased risk of miscarriage. The American Pregnancy Association advises pregnant women keep their daily intake to no more than 200 mg of caffeine, or one 12 oz cup of joe.