Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Is Coffee Good for Me?

Photo by Mike Kenneally

Coffee has become the main part of the morning routine in most American households. When I think of coffee, I think of caffeine. It gives that extra kick for the start of the day. Besides caffeine, coffee has many components including polyphenols, B vitamins, potassium, and riboflavin.

There has been much talk and research on the pros and cons of coffee intake. There was a large prospective study published in New England Journal Of Medicine in 2017 which showed significant inverse associations of coffee consumption with deaths from all causes and specifically with deaths due to heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries and accidents, diabetes, and infections.

Here are some of the benefits of coffee consumption:

  • Reduces reaction time and improves alertness
  • Increases metabolic rate, helps to burn more calories and has been associated with having a lower body weight
  • Decreases breakage in DNA strands
  • Allows the body to process glucose better therefore reducing the risk of developing Type II diabetes
  • Some research indicates that women age 65 and older who drank two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop dementia
  • Decreases risk of colorectal cancer
  • Improvement in memory, mood, and mental function
  • Reduction in risk of developing gall stones and Parkinson’s disease
  • Lower stroke risk
  • Contains polyphenols (inhibit the growth of cancer cells as well as lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes)
  • Contains antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory effects

Limit your coffee intake in the following conditions:

  • Pregnancy and lactation - caffeine gets metabolized much more slower so it can take longer to eliminate caffeine from the body thereby causing accumulation. Caffeine also crosses the placenta into the fetus. Some studies have shown that it can increase the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and premature birth therefore it is important to consult with your doctor right away

  • Anxiety (caffeine can worsen symptoms)

  • Elevated heart rate or cardiac arrhythmias

  • Sleep disturbance-drinking coffee later in the day can make it harder to fall asleep and also affects quality of sleep

So now we do not have to feel guilty of getting our morning joe in or that afternoon cup of bliss. Drinking two to five cups of coffee a day reduced mortality in studies, so you may actually doing yourself a favor. Like most things though, everything is good in moderation, including coffee, do not overdo it, but enjoy that cup of coffee!


How much caffeine does one cup of coffee contain?

  • One cup of coffee on an average has about 95 mg of caffeine

How much caffeine is too much?

  • Per the FDA, a healthy adult can consume about 400 mg/day. This translates to about 4-5 cups of coffee.

How do I decrease the calories I consume with my cup of coffee?

  • Try to cut down on the add-ons such as half and half, whipped cream, sugar. Try cardamom, cinnamon, mint leaves, or lemongrass in an attempt to limit sugar intake.