While I am personally a huge fan of coffee--especially in its syrupy espresso form--the news from researchers has been kind of wishy-washy when it comes to this stimulating, black elixir. Some researchers say coffee is a good thing--improving your memory, fighting off cancer and Alzheimer's, extending your life, and much more--while other researchers say that coffee has its negatives, including increased stress and sleeplessness.
Well, there's more good news for you fellow coffee fans, and it comes from no less than the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, a nonpartisan panel of academics and scientists whose job it is to advise U.S. government agencies including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture.
The good news is that coffee is indeed good for you, and in fact most of us don't drink enough coffee each day. According to the committee, most people should be drinking between 3 and 5 cups of coffee a day to get its full benefits. However, most Americans drink an average of only about 1.7 cups of coffee each day. Even the Dutch--who drink more coffee on average than anyone else in the world--drink an average of only 2.5 cups of coffee a day.
According to the committee, drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day:
1. Does not have long-term health risks.
In fact, those who say that coffee has long-term health risks are wrong.
2. Reduces the risk of heart disease.
Coffee has been found by researchers to lower heart and stroke risk factors such as heart rhythm disturbances and arrhythmias.
3. Reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Coffee is a diabetes fighter, but lay off the added sugar.
4. May protect against Parkinson's disease.
According to one study, people who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had a 40 percent lower risk of developing Parkinson's. Several other studies support coffee's Parkinson's-fighting abilities.
5. Can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern.
According to Tom Brenna, a member of the committee and a nutritionist at Cornell University, "Coffee's good stuff. I don't want to get into implying coffee cures cancer--nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around."
So, fire up that brewer, and have another cup.