love coffee, and I’ve written about it a lot over the past few years, from why it’s actually good for both mental and physical health, to reasons to drink java before a workout. So I wasn’t surprised when, for the first time in history, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee gave coffee a thumbs up.
But many of the headlines pertaining to the report didn’t tell the whole story, leaving a lot of people wondering how much is really OK. To determine your daily dose, here are five factors to consider.
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.)
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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. For example, I sometimes recommend coffee to my healthy athlete clients, but others who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or other digestive disorders feel much better when they eliminate it, as do those who have anxiety disorders. 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.