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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Much Coffee Should You Really Be Drinking?

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee looked at whether coffee poses any health risks, a topic they have previously been silent on. They concluded that strong evidence shows moderate coffee consumption (3 to 5 eight-ounce cups per day, or up to 400 milligram/day caffeine) isn’t tied to any long-term dangers for healthy people. Now, the word “healthy” is key (read on for more), and this is a general statement, not a directive. In other words, the committee isn’t saying that everyone should drink 3 to 5 cups a day.

Even if it may offer some benefits, it’s important to listen to your body. Some people can drink a strong cup of coffee and feel fantastic. Others may drink half a cup and feel jittery and be left with an upset stomach. There’s a lot of individual variation when it comes to how coffee makes you feel. So, don’t take this as a green light to down a pot a day. Consider what feels best for you. (And if the answer is none, there’s no reason to start drinking java.)

Your current health matters

The committee considered healthy individuals. If you already have heart disease or other chronic conditions, you may still need to curb your coffee consumption. And while coffee hasn’t been shown to cause high blood pressure across the board, it may aggravate the condition. Bottom line: if you have any acute or ongoing medical conditions or your blood work values have been out of the normal range, talk to your doctor or personal dietitian/nutritionist about what’s best for you.

Be mindful of your sleep
One thing we know for certain is that caffeine interferes with sleep for most people, and catching enough zzz’s is critical for mental and physical well being, as well as for weight control. A good rule of thumb is to nix all caffeine at least six hours before bed. So if you’re tempted to pour another cup when you’re in an afternoon slump, find other ways to perk up, like going for a quick walk, listening to a five-minute guided meditation, or drinking a cold glass of water.


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