How much coffee is too much?

by Pat
(Portland, Oregon)

OK, so maybe THIS is a little too much coffee.

OK, so maybe THIS is a little too much coffee.


QUESTION:


I have heard the latest reports about coffee and how it not only isn't bad for you, it can actually be helpful to your health. It's kinda like the egg debate. They're good for you. They're bad for you. They're good for you, etc., etc.

Seems like coffee has entered the egg realm and the coffee debate rages on. When I was growing up I was taught that everything (well, almost everything) is OK in moderation. Ice cream? Sure. Just don't eat too much. Wine? Two glasses a day, especially of red wine, has health benefits.

What about coffee? Is there a general consensus on how much coffee is too much coffee? I'm not talking about triple almond lattes with whole milk and extra whip. Just a good old Cup of Joe.


ANSWER:

Thanks for the question!

You’re right. For a long time there was a lot of talk about coffee being bad for you. In fact, a couple of decades back it was suggested in one study that coffee caused cancer. The study was withdrawn and the results discarded. But not until its flawed results were splashed across the media. The damage was done and a negative association lingered.

More recent studies suggest that coffee is good for you, in all kinds of different ways…including the prevention of some cancers.

You can find our page on the health benefits of coffee here.

As for whether there is a “right” amount of coffee to drink, that’s a different question. As you say, people suggest that two glass of red wine a day are good for you.

As far as I know, there is no simple rule like that for coffee. At least, not yet.

One thing you can be sure of is that you won’t be poisoned by consuming too much caffeine in coffee. Caffeine is toxic in large quantities, but last time I checked you would have to drink over 50 cups of coffee a day to come anywhere near that toxic dose.

I think the most common complaint people have when they drink too much coffee is the effects of its acidity. In other words, they feel it in their stomachs.

One tip for anyone who loves coffee, but gets that acid burn feeling when they drink it is to try cold-brewed coffee. It contains a whole lot less acid than its hot-brewed counterpart. You can learn more about making cold-brew coffee here.

The other issue, of course, is the buzz coffee gives us. And for the most part, we welcome the caffeine “high”…particularly first thing in the morning.

But, as in all things, moderation is key. Get too buzzed and you can get the jitters. And, of course, if you drink too much coffee too late in the day it can impact your ability to get a good night’s sleep.

Overall, I think we can give coffee a big thumbs up when it comes to our health. Even if you drink 10 cups a day I don’t think you have much to worry about.

Photo Credit: David Boardman. Thanks David!

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