I enjoy taking a hot cup of coffee to kick start the day. Its aroma is a major attraction for me. Recently, I switched from caffeine to decaffeinated coffee because of the undesirable effects of caffeine to my system. It’s amazing how recent researchers attach so much health benefits to coffee intake.
Moderate coffee drinking is safe, and three to four cups a day may have some health benefits, according to a large review of studies, in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
The University of Southampton researchers collected data on the impact of coffee on all aspects of the human body, taking into account more than 200 studies – most of which were observational.
Compared with non-coffee drinkers, those who drank about three cups of coffee a day appeared to reduce their risk of getting heart problems or dying from them.
But Prof Paul Roderick, co-author of the study, from the faculty of medicine at University of Southampton, said the review could not say if coffee intake had made the difference.
“Factors such as age, whether people smoked or not and how much exercise they took could all have had an effect,” he said.
The findings back up other recent reviews and studies of coffee drinking so, overall, his message on coffee was reassuring.
“There is a balance of risks in life, and the benefits of moderate consumption of coffee seem to outweigh the risks,” he said.
But they stressed their findings do not mean it is good for everyone since caffeine affects people differently.
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But overall they found people who drink coffee are more likely to benefit than not.
For adults, moderate caffeine intake equates to 400mg or less per day – or three to four cups of coffee – but that isn’t the only drink (or food) to bear in mind. Below is equivalent amount of caffeine in each beverage.
-one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
-one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
-one mug of tea: 75mg
-one can of cola: 40mg
At present, the researchers said pinning down exactly how coffee might have a positive impact on health was “difficult” but it could be down to the effects of anti-oxidants and anti-fibrotics, which prevent or slow damage to cells in the body.
Decaffeinated coffee has a similar impact to the standard version, they found, suggesting the caffeine is not responsible for health benefits.
Health officials advice a daily limit of 400mg of caffeine for adults and 3mg per kg of body weight for children.
Pregnant women are advised not to take more than 200 mg of caffeine a day to avoid risk of miscarriage.
But they also warned those who break the limits run the risk of a host of health problems, from anxiety to heart failure.