March 12, 2015 -- Many people kick-start their day with coffee. Could it also give your health a boost?
Recent studies say a few jolts of java daily are good for the brain and heart, and they protect against certain cancers. But hold that coffee cup -- other research says it's not a safe habit for everyone.
Here, doctors and nutritionists weigh in.
What Makes Coffee Healthy?
"It's anything but clear as to where the benefits come from," says Marc Leavey, MD, a primary care doctor at Lutherville Personal Physicians in Maryland. That's because coffee has hundreds of ingredients. Some occur naturally in coffee beans, and others are created when roasting or brewing.
Two potentially healthy ingredients are:
- Phytochemicals. Don't let the word "chemical" scare you. These are healthy antioxidants made by plants. Antioxidants reduce inflammation and help cells grow better.
- Caffeine. You probably already know coffee is full of this stuff. How much depends on the bean and how you brew it. But even decaffeinated kinds have some traces of it.
"Coffee provides caffeine, a stimulant that keeps our brains active, and plenty of antioxidants that can help prevent many common chronic diseases, such as diabetes," says Brian Doyle, MD, a clinical instructor at the UCLA School of Medicine.
What Are the Health Benefits?
Coffee boosts your alertness and helps you beat fatigue. More and more studies show that people who drink three to five 8-ounce cups a day could be protecting their health in many other ways.
Possible benefits include a lower risk of:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Endometrial cancer
- Heart attack
- Liver cancer
- Parkinson's disease
- Skin cancer, including melanoma
How Much Is Too Much?
"We recommend not drinking more than five cups [of coffee] per day," says Miriam Nelson, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Tufts University. Five cups is about 400 milligrams of caffeine, according to the FDA. They say that much caffeine a day is safe for healthy adults who aren't pregnant.
Drinking a lot of caffeinated coffee can temporarily raise your blood pressure, especially if you have borderline-high or high BP. It can also trigger other heart problems, which might lead to an emergency room visit or a hospital stay, Nelson says.
source : Coffee and Your Health: FAQ