Do you start the day with a mug of coffee, followed by a second mug, and then a third around 3 pm to help you make it through the afternoon? And do you sometimes worry that you're consuming too much caffeine and that maybe you should cut back? Nope. It seems you should be drinking more coffee, not less.

That's the surprising finding from a team led by Giuseppe Grosso, a of the University of Catania in Italy. He and his team reviewed  127 "meta-analysis" studies on coffee consumption. Each of these studies was itself a review of a number of similar coffee-consumption studies, and Grosso and his team ranked them all according to the methods used and reliability of the conclusions drawn. 

They had a simple goal: To determine once and for all whether coffee is bad for you, as some research has shown, or actually good for you, as other studies have found. "It's impossible that it's 2017 and we still struggle to decide if coffee is healthy or unhealthy," Grosso told Knowable. 

The struggle is now over and we have what seems to be a definitive answer. Coffee is good for you, unless you're an unborn child, in which case you (and your mom) should keep caffeine to a minimum. For everyone else, coffee has impressive benefits. It can lower your risk for some of the most common cancers, such as breast, colorectal, colon, endometrial, and prostate cancer. It also lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease, and it reduces your risk for both Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease by 30 percent. No wonder--as some research has shown--coffee drinkers tend to live longer than non-coffee drinkers. There's a long explanation for all these benefits but here's the short version: Like green tea and dark chocolate, coffee is loaded with antioxidants.

Keep on pouring!

But the really good news from the study (at least if you're a java junkie like me) is just how much of it we should all be drinking. Research seems to have homed in on the perfect amount for your health. Grosso and his team recommend four or five eight-ounce cups per day, which equates to two Starbucks grande beverages. Other researchers, testing for coffee's negative effects, have stated categorically that three to four cups a day won't hurt you. That amounts to a consensus at four cups a day, or roughly 400 milligrams of caffeine--the ideal daily dose of coffee for your health, unless you're pregnant.

There's one caveat, though: If you're accustomed to loading up your coffee with lots of sugar, you might want to curb that impulse. Coffee may not be bad for you, but the sugar you put into it is very bad. So bad that a sugar industry group back in the 1960s, funded research on sugar's health effects, then pulled the plug on that research as it began to show just how harmful sugar can be. 

So go ahead and drink that second, third, and fourth cup. Just be mindful of what you put in it.

Published on: Feb 12, 2018
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