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Feeling guilty over that cup of java? Relax

Coffee
If you’re anything like the majority of people, you don’t feel ready to face the day without your morning cup (or two) of coffee. But if you feel guilty about indulging in caffeine, don’t fret.

If you’re anything like the majority of people, you don’t feel ready to face the day without your morning cup (or two) of coffee. But if you feel guilty about indulging in caffeine, don’t fret. The existing body of research suggests that the benefits may outweigh the risks.

The scientific community still has much ground to cover before declaring definitively whether coffee is good, or bad, for you. But several studies—observational in nature—indicate that coffee may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as liver or endometrial cancer. A 2019 study conducted by Queens University in Northern Ireland suggested that people who drank coffee reduced their risk of liver cancer by more than half. A 2011 study, published in Cancer Epidemiology; Biomarkers& Prevention, found that the risk for endometrial cancer was 25 percent lower for women who drank four or more cups a day compared to those who drank less than one a day.

Coffee, which is rich in antioxidants, may also help control blood sugar and boost the results you get from your exercise routine. The caffeine in coffee serves as a thermogenic, boosting the metabolism and helping you recover from your workout. One 2008 study found that consuming carbohydrates with caffeine resulted in a 66 percent increase in muscle glycogen four hours after glycogen-depleting exercise, compared to ingesting carbs alone. Glycogen, the storage form of glucose (or sugar) in the body, serves as an energy “piggy bank” during exercise, powering your movements and fueling endurance. To whet your appetite for this potentially powerful combo, try drinking a 6-ounce cup of coffee while enjoying one of these meals:

  • Medium apple and half a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread
  • Half a large sweet potato with 6-ounce chicken breast
  • Bagel sandwich made with two egg whites, sliced ham and tomato

The news, though, is not all good. Some people, for example, may have a genetic mutation that slows down their metabolism of caffeine. These individuals may need to be careful with caffeine consumption.  Caffeine intake may also raise blood pressure, weaken the immune system and increase the risk of heart disease in some people. And some studies have shown that excessive intake may cause sleep problems and anxiety, and may result in negative side effects when combined with certain medications. Then there are the studies that show there’s no benefit, or risk, to the world’s favorite breakfast beverage.

The underlying message, then, is to enjoy your morning coffee in moderation, in combination with a healthy, well-balanced diet and regular exercise. Keep your intake to two to three cups a day. Everyone’s body will react differently to coffee, so talk with your health care professional or dietitian on what is the most appropriate consumption levels for you.

Learn more about nutritional support.