The debate about whether coffee is good or bad for you seems never-ending. Coffee fans love to brag about the drink's health benefits, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, depression, and skin cancer. Coffee naysayers swear coffee heightens stress and causes headaches. So, what's the deal?
The bad news is, according to a recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, large amounts of coffee can be harmful. The good news is, you're probably not consuming enough coffee to cause any damage — as long as you know your limit. The research found that drinking six or more cups of coffee per day can increase your risk of heart disease by up to 22 percent.
The study investigated a link between long-term coffee consumption and cardiovascular disease by analyzing data from 347,077 participants. It confirmed that six cups is when the excess caffeine can start to cause high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Interestingly enough, this is the first time that a limit has been placed on coffee consumption in regard to protecting heart health.
However, experts point out that it's also important to pay attention to the way that your own body responds to coffee, even if you drink far less than six cups daily. You may find that your personal comfort level is different from a fellow java lover's — and there's nothing wrong with taking a break from the brew if you feel any negative side effects.
"Most people would agree that if you drink a lot of coffee, you might feel jittery, irritable, or perhaps even nauseas," said researcher Elina Hyppönen, PhD, in a press release. "That's because caffeine helps your body work faster and harder, but it is also likely to suggest that you may have reached your limit for the time being."
But even if you consider yourself a seasoned coffee drinker, researchers say it's still essential to limit your intake to fewer than six cups per day. Otherwise, you may put your blood pressure — and thus, your heart health — at risk.
"Knowing the limits of what's good for you and what's not is imperative," said Dr. Hyppönen. "As with many things, it's all about moderation; overindulge and your health will pay for it."