The average American drinks two cups of coffee per day, increasing the older we get. In fact, in 2011, it’s estimated Americans consumed 400 million cups of coffee per day. That’s A LOT of coffee. This has led many to ask a very important question. Is coffee healthy for you?

For a drink so prevalent in our society, there hasn’t been a consensus. In fact, California coffee shops must now include warnings about potential links to cancer (though the science on this is up for debate).

When it comes to whether coffee is healthy or not, we’ll happily show our cards early. We entered the research phase of this article openly, willing to let the chips fall freely. After looking at several studies, expert opinions, and common wisdom, we’re convinced. As long as you’re not loading it up with sugar or sweeteners, coffee can be pretty healthy.

Health Risks

Of course, there wouldn’t be a debate if there weren’t any downsides to drinking coffee. Most of these are because of overindulgence. Drinking too much coffee can lead to a caffeine overdose, which can give you jitters, headaches, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, it can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and irregular heartbeats. While the amount of caffeine needed for an overdose differs from person to person, try to keep it under four cups of coffee a day. At any point, if you begin experiencing symptoms, cut back and switch to water.

In extreme cases, caffeine overdose can lead to seizures, hallucinations, and irregular heartbeats.

It’s also possible to have withdrawal if you’re a habitual coffee drinker. Many of the symptoms mimic a caffeine overdose. If you haven’t had coffee for a little while and experience headache, irritability, or lethargy you may be going through caffeine withdrawal. In worst cases, caffeine withdrawal can manifest as flu-like symptoms, depression, or anxiety. As with anything, though, these risks can be largely mitigated by healthy moderation. If you don’t overdo your coffee intake, you should be able to enjoy the health benefits without fear.

Everyday Benefits

Among the little things that you can experience from your coffee is increased energy levels and alertness, the primary reason many drink coffee in the morning. It’s also why you shouldn’t drink coffee six hours before bed. The boost in focus, alertness, and energy comes from caffeine. One of the more prominent substances in coffee, caffeine is a stimulant that has wide-reaching effects throughout the body.

If you’re trying to lose weight, drinking coffee can help you greatly. For one, coffee is a great fat burner. Caffeine has been scientifically shown to increase fat burning in both fit and unfit individuals. Caffeine can also increase your metabolism, leading to further weight loss. It can also promote weight loss by helping you exercise better.

Caffeine has been scientifically shown to increase fat burning in both fit and unfit individuals.

Weight loss isn’t everything, though. Some people just want to be happy. Luckily, coffee is also a great mood-booster, with studies linking it to people feeling happier and lower rates of depression. One study from Harvard even found that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day drops the likelihood of suicide by 50 percent!

Finally, coffee is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Coffee is loaded with vitamins and minerals like vitamin B2, potassium, and magnesium. It achieves this while still having almost no calories, unless you add in sugars or creamers, of course. Then, you have the antioxidants, and boy, does coffee have antioxidants. Coffee is one of the biggest natural contributors of antioxidants, which can prevent some of the negatives of aging and many diseases.

Coffee Lowers Your Chances of Certain Diseases

As if the daily benefits of drinking coffee weren’t enough, it can also lower your risk of several major diseases including type 2 diabetes, liver disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and stroke. Despite its old reputation as a carcinogen, many studies believe coffee decreases your chances of cancer. One such study found that drinking coffee can lower your chances of liver cancer by 40 percent or more. Coffee is also believed to help prevent womb cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. This is believed to be due to the high level of antioxidants in coffee, which prevents free radical damage that can lead to cancer.

One study found that drinking coffee can lower your chances of liver cancer by 40 percent or more.

Much like coffee and cancer, there’s been a long negative association of coffee with heart disease. The belief was that coffee caused high blood pressure and led to heart disease. Recent studies have been flipping this belief on its head. A 2015 study found that coffee drinking may help keep your arteries clear. Another study from 2017 found that coffee lowers your risk of heart failure, stroke, and coronary heart disease.

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So, does this mean you should start drinking five cups of coffee each day? Not necessarily. While there is a lot of evidence linking coffee to these benefits, the science behind it is still fairly new. As with any treat, coffee can become another addition to your healthy arsenal. If you drink coffee already, great, keep it up. If you can’t stand the taste, don’t worry. There are plenty of alternatives, like tea or matcha. The point is, there’s no magic bullet to health, but coffee can be a powerful aid.

Further Reading

WebMD — Caffeine Myths and Facts