Many people relish that first sip of hot coffee in the morning, but is your daily dose of java a positive or negative for your overall health? There has been plenty of research on the subject, as consumers want to know if caffeine is beneficial or detrimental. While the research has mostly shown that caffeine intake is harmless and may even provide some benefits, there are times when it may pay to cut back on your coffee drinking as well.
What is the Source?
Where the caffeine comes from will play a significant role in whether the caffeine consumption is considered good or bad. For example, caffeine found in coffee and tea is generally considered more beneficial, primarily because other nutrients in coffee beans and tea leaves are beneficial. On the other hand, caffeine found in sugar-laden energy drinks and soda is not considered beneficial on the health scale.
Caffeine Health Benefits
Studies have linked caffeine intake to a number of potential health benefits:
- Improvement of energy levels and cognitive function
- Decrease in fatigue and depression
- Lower risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s
- Protection against type 2 diabetes and liver disease
- Improvement in endurance and athletic performance
Negative Effects of Caffeine
Despite a number of potential benefits offered by the caffeine in coffee and tea, there are some drawbacks to consuming these beverages as well:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased anxiety and difficulty sleeping
- May contribute to osteoporosis, especially in women
- Contributor to heartburn and other gastric disorders
- Possible interaction with some drugs
On a positive note, previous studies that suggested a link between coffee intake and a higher risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease have been mostly negated. It appears that early findings may have been more dependent of other factors associated with heavy coffee drinkers, such as a sedentary lifestyle and cigarette smoking.
In addition to where you get your caffeine, how much you consume daily will also affect whether caffeine is beneficial or detrimental to your health. Most medical experts recommend 3-4 8-oz. cups of coffee a day are fairly safe for the majority of the population. A recent Harvard study even found that up to six cups of coffee daily was acceptable. However, pregnant women and those with pre-existing medical conditions that could be affected by caffeine should significantly limit their daily caffeine intake as a general rule.
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