Our opinions on whether coffee is good for you have flipped around quite a bit over the years; for a while, it was one of the most nutritious things you could put in your body; at other times, it was considered a toxic substance that would erode your stomach lining and, presumably, open portals to hell. Now, Harvard nutritionist Vasanti Malik, responded to a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” thread with the exciting news that coffee’s benefits, which are many, do show up when a person drinks five cups of coffee a day.
Malik also debunks a number of the negative talk surrounding coffee, taking on one of the reasons people suggest limiting coffee intake: that it wears away the stomach lining. “Not only is this claim not supported by any evidence—the bulk of the research on coffee highlights the drink’s benefits more than anything else,” Malik says. “Coffee, provided that it is minimally sweetened with sugar and not loaded with whipped cream, can definitely be part of a healthy diet.”
Malik points to videos created by Dr. Aaron E Carroll, a professor pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, who sifts through tons of information and studies about coffee to find zero evidence that people who drink a lot of coffee are risking their health in any way. But even though coffee itself might not be bad for you, the things we’re putting in our coffee—heavy amounts of cream, sugar, and preservatives—are the real culprit of poor health and weight gain.
Over the past few decades, coffee has seen its fair share of headlines, not all of them good. A 2001 study found a 20% increase in the risk developing urinary tract cancer in coffee drinkers (though not tea drinkers). A 2015 study confirmed those findings, unfortunately, so if your family has a history of urinary tract cancer, then it would be good to be mindful of your coffee intake.
The headlines in the last few years, however, have been a bit more positive. Between 2011 and 2012, studies showed that coffee can reduce risk of stroke, prostate cancer, and lower the risk of heart failure. By last year, coffee was being heralded as a health food that fit in well with a healthy diet, as long as it isn’t loaded with cream and sugar.
Yum! I believe I hear the coffee pot beeping.