Today, it seems most of the world runs on coffee, and most likely, it’s the first beverage the majority of Americans drink each day! With this nectar from the coffee fruit being so highly consumed, it’s only natural to ask: How much coffee should we be consuming each day?
A recent answer to this question is that 3 to 5 cups per day is optimal. This was gathered after the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee mentioned that there are various health benefits to drinking a few cups of coffee each day. For all coffee lovers alike, this is cause to celebrate! However, not so fast, because it might not be as simple as it seems. Just like people, coffee comes in different shapes and sizes, and not all of them are necessarily healthy.
For example-- the amount of caffeine
One of the main factors people think about when drinking coffee is caffeine. The acceptable amount for adults is around 400 milligrams/day, which is about 4 cups of black coffee (pregnant women should not exceed half that amount). The overdose amount for caffeine is around 75 cups of coffee, so it seems most avid coffee drinkers are safe! In addition to this, each person’s body processes caffeine differently; therefore, the effects of caffeine will vary accordingly. Since caffeine can have a very strong effect on some people, coffee should never become a substitute for sleep. Let’s be real, this only puts a bandaid on the issue without actually addressing the source of lethargic symptoms = sleep deprivation. The cure for this is, simply, sleep.
Another example-- the type of coffee beverage
We would be a lot more safe if caffeine was the only ingredient to watch in coffee drinks. Gardner asks the question, “What is it people are drinking when they say they are drinking coffee? Is black coffee the same as a mocha-frappa-crap-accino? Very unlikely.” He is pointing out that even though 4 cups of coffee is suggested as safe, this is not the same as 4 cups of coffee with all sorts of additives! I think it’s safe to say that this might not even fit the category of “coffee” at all. As an example, an 8oz. cup of black coffee contains 2 calories, while an 8oz. latte contains 100 calories. From this we see that the overall health benefits of drinking several cups of coffee a day can be very different according to if you drink black coffee, or something completely different.
So, do we know if there is an exact number of cups we should drink per day?
Nah. (This is where coffee lovers cheer!)
As Christopher Gardner, nutrition scientist at Stanford University, puts it, “I do not think you will find anyone who can convincingly or compellingly tell you what this number is.” However, in the end, keep the every-day brewed cup(s) of coffee, and save the creamy, sweet drink as a weekend treat!