Just like many other foods and beverages, coffee has been said to be both good and bad for you. So which is it? Well, just like most everything else, it can be both; it just depends on how much you drink and what you add to it. If you load up your cup of Joe with sugar and cream and drink multiple cups a day, that isn’t going to benefit to your body very much. Laura Cipullo, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator, reminds us to be aware of what we are putting in our coffee.

“Whether it is whole milk, sugar or even whipped cream, in this day and age, specialty coffee drinks are extremely popular, and all of the research studies use black coffee — not frappuccinos,” Cipullo said.

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One of the most common misconceptions about coffee is that it will increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. That is not true! You also might not realize that habitual coffee drinking can actually lower risk of Type 2 diabetes and liver cancer, because coffee contains natural antioxidants. Those antioxidants can also help reduce risk of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, as well as stroke and heart disease.

Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist also known as America’s Eating Strategist, actually promotes moderate doses of coffee because the caffeine it contains produces a wide range of health benefits. Aside from increasing alertness and problem-solving ability, caffeine can also boost your mood, as well as endurance during sports and exercise. In fact, a recent study on endurance found that athletes who consumed the same amount of caffeine that would be in two large cups of coffee actually experienced up to 30% more endurance than those who did not. They also experienced increased speed, faster recovery, and less fatigue during and after their workout.

coffee beans in a coffee cup

Batayneh says that just like any other supplement, caffeine can produce negative effects if too much of it is consumed. Doses of 500 milligrams or more can cause muscle tremors, upset stomach, insomnia, irritability, nervousness and irregular heartbeat. Caffeine can also raise blood pressure, so it is recommended that women who are pregnant and people with hypertension drink decaf or limit their consumption to less than a full cup of coffee per day.

This might lead you to ask, “what is a healthy amount of coffee to consume daily?” Batayneh suggests consuming no more than 300-400 milligrams of coffee per day, which is equal to about three six-ounce cups of coffee. Women who are pregnant are generally told by their physicians not to drink any coffee at all, but this is not quite necessary. Cipullo says pregnant women can drink coffee, but they should limit their intake to less than three cups per day in order to prevent any increased probability of spontaneous abortion or impaired fetal growth. When in doubt, drink decaf! However, do keep in mind that if you are prone to acid reflux and gastric ulcers, decaf can actually aggravate these conditions.

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