Is coffee beneficial or detrimental to your health? 

By Elisha Aispuro, UC Davis Nutrition Peer Counselor

First off… let’s quickly discuss all the claims you may have heard about coffee in these last twenty years. Did you ever hear about a 2006 study that found drinking a mere two cups of black coffee every day increased your risk for heart attacks and high blood pressure! Did you also hear about a recent study that found drinking three cups of black coffee daily lowers your risk for stroke and death from cardiovascular disease!

I know what you’re thinking, these two research studies have contradictory results so what should you believe?

I’ll get to that…but let me start off by breaking down the widely researched health benefits associated with a daily cup of freshly brewed black coffee that’s consumed by over a billion people each day.

Health Benefits of Coffee

Drinking coffee has long been thought to have numerous health benefits, such as supplying energy, alertness, and increased concentration. Research has proven that coffee can ease headaches and combat depression. Additionally, recent studies suggest drinking a certain amount of coffee daily may reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, heart failure, Type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

Early Health Concerns of Coffee

Coffee certainly has health benefits, but for some, too much can induce anxiety, jitteriness, and insomnia. In addition, it was once thought that drinking coffee could make you more prone to cardiovascular disease (CVD). This was largely due to studies, such as one published in 2006, that found some individuals had an increased risk of high blood pressure and heart attack if they consumed over two cups of daily coffee, while others did not have this risk. Scientists in this study believed that there was an increased risk of CVD in individuals who carried a variant of the CYP1A2 gene, which made them less effective at metabolizing caffeine. However, a study in 2019 found there was no evidence for an interaction between the CYP1A2 genotype and coffee intake with respect to the risk of developing CVDs. The 2019 study did find that heavy coffee

consumption could lead to a modest increase in CVDs, but this association was unaffected by genetic variants influencing caffeine metabolism.

All of this is to say, many studies after 2006 found that coffee may actually have a neutral or beneficial effect on cardiovascular health. One interesting study in 2015 found that in populations without diagnosed disease, coffee drinkers had healthier sized and better functioning hearts, consistent with the suggested idea that coffee may aid in reversing the detrimental effects of aging on the heart. The study also found that drinking a moderate amount of coffee could lower the risk of clogged arteries that can lead to a heart attack.

How Much Is Too Much?

According to recent studies and dietary guidelines, it’s safe to consume up to five daily cups of black coffee with the average U.S. coffee drinker consuming about three cups of coffee every day. It’s important to mention that the nutritional value of your coffee will change depending on the amount of sugar, creamer, or other ingredients added to each cup so individual recommendations on how much is too much may differ based on how you like your coffee.

Ultimately, now you know that while your daily Starbucks coffee may put a dent in your wallet, it won’t affect your health when consumed in moderation.

Hope this information helps you feel more confident as you reach for your second cup of coffee as midterms approach.

Do you have any creative Starbucks coffee drink orders you think the Davis community should know of?

Let us know in the comments below!

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