Benefits of Coffee

Reviewed by Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN
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Wake up and smell the … antioxidants?

If you think your morning cup of joe provides nothing more to your body than a jolt of caffeine, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn that your daily cup may provide some additional benefits as well. Drinking moderate amounts of coffee has been linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease.

And those antioxidants? Although researchers have yet to determine the exact mechanisms behind some of the disease-preventing effects, it is important to keep in mind that these compounds may be exerting other beneficial effects, such as acting as an anti-inflammatory. Coffee also contains small amounts of some nutrients, including potassium, niacin and magnesium.

Making your coffee a vehicle for fat-free or low-fat milk is one way to increase your daily calcium and vitamin D intake. If your diet does not include dairy, a fortified soy beverage is a calcium-rich alternative. Just be mindful if adding sweetener, since coffee drinks can be a source of added sugars.

So how much java is too much? Three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee provide about 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is the most that is recommended per day for healthy adults. Certain groups, such as people with hypertension and the elderly, may be at a higher risk for negative side effects of caffeine and so should consider limiting their intake. Pregnant and breast-feeding women will also want to limit caffeine and should discuss their intake with a health care provider. Due to coffee being a stimulant, it is not recommended for children and adolescents.

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