Yes, coffee is good for you. But how much should you drink? Here are 5 things to know – Courier Journal

I understand the frustration of those who attempt to stay up to date with the latest health information. Just when we come to understand how to cope with a given situation, the rules seem to change. What gives?
The answer is science and the scientific process. In a nutshell, when a scientific medical report is provided to the public, it should be accompanied by a disclaimer that says: “This is the best information available right now.” Things can change based upon new scientific findings, and as they do, new light may be shined on a problem that we thought was solved.
Here is an example. As we became more aware of how your diet can promote clogging of the arteries leading to a heart attack, the focus was on reducing the intake of saturated fat. This resulted in advice to rid the diet of butter, and margarine was considered a good replacement. Then it was determined that margarine contains trans-fats that are worse than saturated fat.
This was confusing and frustrating for those trying to improve their health. To make matters worse, there is the business angle and the misleading message, “Buy butter — it’s good for you, after all.”
Not so. Both are bad, and one is worse than the other.
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The above example illustrates how scientific advancements can alter the message. When it comes to coffee, the message changed because the old message was due to poorly conducted science. The old message was that folks who drink coffee are at higher risk for heart disease, cancer, stomach ulcers, heartburn, etc., and it can stunt growth. Therefore, it is best to avoid coffee, and short of that, reduce intake as much as possible.
The problem is, it wasn’t coffee that was responsible for these health problems. Instead, back then, folks who drank lots of coffee also were more likely to smoke cigarettes, consume excess alcohol and not exercise. Good science would have statistically controlled for all of these influences and reported that coffee and the caffeine in coffee do not increase the risk of heart disease, cancer, etc.
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Thus, a revised interpretation of the data led to the conclusion that coffee and its caffeine were “OK.”
In other words, coffee didn’t cause health problems, but then, it wasn’t particularly helpful either.
Now, the message has changed again.
The latest scientific evidence supports the consumption of three to five cups of full brewed coffee per day as a good health promotion tool. Using a paper filter has been found to be the best approach when brewing to remove compounds that are bad for you. In other words, don’t just boil ground coffee, and avoid French press or Turkish unfiltered coffee.
Coffee may be a positive influence on your health in several ways, including reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, protection against certain forms of cancer, and possible protection against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. What’s more, coffee may help to extend the lifespan.
Why is coffee helpful? There is still a lot of research needing to be done, but at present, it appears a main reason coffee is helpful is that it is high in antioxidants. Perhaps you recall from years ago, all the hoopla associated with the health benefits of drinking red wine, owing to the high antioxidant content.
When it comes to coffee, the question always comes up: Is it the coffee or the caffeine that is good (or bad) for you? Since the pendulum is leaning toward coffee as a positive, does caffeine play a role in promoting health? This can get complicated, but there is an easy way to get at the underlying issue. If caffeine plays a role in coffee being healthy, decaf coffee would not be recommended.
Although the data are somewhat limited (stay tuned for more developments, as always), it appears that decaf coffee confers similar health benefits as fully caffeinated coffee. This supports the notion that antioxidants may be the key to health benefits because antioxidants are found in both full brewed and decaf coffee. That’s good news for those who do not tolerate caffeine well. You can still have your daily decaf coffee and get the health kick you are looking for.
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The caffeine content of a cup of coffee can vary greatly. But, in general, with a caffeine content of approximately 100-150 mg per cup, five 8-ounce cups of full brewed coffee could provide as much as 750 mg of caffeine per day. That’s plenty, and too much caffeine can interfere with sleep, be addictive, interfere with some prescription medications (thyroid meds, or psychiatric and depression meds, and some antibiotics), and it can increase blood glucose (sugar) concentration.
Bear in mind that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. It’s also in tea, sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, etc., so be careful, and pay heed to the old saying: “Too much of anything is good for nothing.” 
Reach Bryant Stamford, a professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at Hanover College, at [email protected]