Photo: little star/Shutterstock
Ever wonder how much coffee is too much?
Every morning, millions of Canadians begin their day with a cup of joe… Or two or three. Drinking coffee has become a time-honoured way for people to start their morning routine, maybe relax a bit, or socialize in the office kitchen. But how much coffee is too much? Some say it may be when you start exhibiting symptoms like anxiety and stomach pain, but science has found an exact number of cups per day that can tip the scale from coffee being helpful to harmful.
The health benefits of coffee
If you’re about to throw away your coffee maker for fear it’ll cause you harm, don’t. There are lots of health benefits in your daily cup. A November 2015 study from Circulation found coffee was linked to a reduced risk of mortality. It can help potentially lower your chances of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, uterine and liver cancer, cirrhosis, and gout, according to some studies reported by Harvard University. (Learn to spot the silent signs you might have diabetes.) A study from the American Heart Association found consuming both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee was associated with a lower risk of mortality. Even more important, there was no link found between coffee consumption and cancer, going against previous guidelines that labeled coffee as a carcinogen.
Coffee can also help prevent damage to your DNA thanks to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities found in coffee beans. If you’re still concerned about your habit, here’s more on the pros and cons of coffee from a health perspective.
The coffee danger zone
Even if your coffee is healthy, you do not want to get into a six-cups-a-day habit. New research from the University of South Australia has found drinking six or more coffees a day can counteract some of the drink’s benefits and increase your risk of heart disease by up to 22 per cent. (Get to know more risk factors for heart disease, and how to control them.) According to Science Daily, this is the first time experts have determined a safe upper limit on coffee consumption. The study looked at long-term coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease and found that excessive caffeine can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. (On the other hand, these foods can help lower blood pressure.)
“Coffee is the most commonly consumed stimulant in the world—it wakes us up, boosts our energy, and helps us focus—but people are always asking ‘How much caffeine is too much?’,” study researcher Professor Elina Hyppönen of the Australian Centre of Precision Health says in Science Daily. “Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable, or perhaps even nauseous—that’s because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being.”
There you have it. Unless you’re feeling the symptoms, you may want to aim to keep it to five or fewer cups to get the health benefits of coffee without the risk of heart disease down the line. Learn more about what might happen to your body if you switch from coffee to tea.