Happy National Coffee Day! I didn't even know that was a day until Facebook told me this morning. Apparently a number of places were giving out freebies, hopefully you took advantage. (The Krispy Kreme giveaway was incredibly tempting, but I was too lazy to drive 20 minutes to the closest store.)
Coffee seems to be a point of confusion for a lot of people. I often have clients guiltily admit to me that they drink coffee everyday with the added disclaimer "I know that's bad."
Listen, if you're drinking a pot or more of coffee a day, that's a little much. But, in moderation, coffee can provide a number of health benefits. Coffee is high in a number of different antioxidants that help keep the cardiovascular system, kidneys, liver, gallbladder, eyes and skin healthy. It also helps with mental clarity. Some studies suggest coffee may decrease the risk of Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, but nothing has been proven yet.
Most recommendations for coffee intake give a range of 3-5 cups per day. The caffeine in each cup of coffee varies, but it's usually between 90-100 mg per cup. Caffeine intake over 500 mg per day can start to cause negative health effects (rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and insomnia). Some people who are sensitive to caffeine may notice those effects after just one cup. If you have heart disease, you should talk with your doctor about whether or not coffee intake is safe for you, since coffee can increase heart rate and blood pressure and interact with some medications.
The caffeine in coffee can cause appetite suppression, which is why some people feel drinking coffee can aid in weight loss. Coffee itself is fairly low in calories, but that all changes when you add creamers, sugars, or butter (like with the Bulletproof Coffee fad going on right now). That doesn't mean you can't add those things to your morning cup of joe; just recognize that the calories you're drinking are part of your daily calorie intake. Although coffee can suppress your hunger, I wouldn't recommend making it the only breakfast you have (even with clarified butter, which does have its health benefits). Also, a cup of coffee is not a substitute for a good night's sleep! So, like with most things, enjoy in moderation.
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.