Coffee is a Safe Choice for Your Health

While we don’t know if coffee is really “good for us,” a recent study suggests it certainly is not harmful. In fact, the research found that people who drink up to five cups of coffee per day are less likely to die from heart disease or type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health studied the association of coffee intake — caffeinated, decaffeinated, or both — and risk of death based on self-reported coffee habits of more than 160,000 female nurses and 40,000 male physicians followed from the mid-1980s through 2012. During that time, nearly 32,000 of the survey participants died.

Those who reported drinking coffee each day were less likely to have died during follow-up than those who did not drink coffee. But before you run out to buy the industrial sized coffee maker, you should know that the mortality benefit was pretty small and leveled out at four to five cups per day. So if you don’t drink coffee, there’s not enough here to recommend that you start. If you are already a coffee drinker, I would not tell you to drink more. 

Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee seemed to have similar effects, so the benefits may be due to compounds other than caffeine. 

Bottom line: if you already drink five or fewer cups of coffee per day, don’t worry. If soda is your caffeine source of choice, coffee might be a better substitute. And for those prone to palpitations or sleep disturbance due to caffeine, switching to decaf doesn’t diminish the positive effects on cardiovascular health.

But remember – as soon as you add something to the coffee, you are changing the health impact . This study was not about mocha or pumpkin spice lattes.

No matter what we study, when it comes to food the message seems to always be consistent: the simpler the better, the more grounded in nature the better, and moderation is key.


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