If you're one of the millions of Australians that downs coffee or other caffeinated beverages to get through the work day, here's some good news. A new scientific review on the safety of caffeine says drinking up to four cups of coffee, or about 400mg of caffeine, is pretty safe.
Photo by Quang Nguyen.
I love coffee. I drink it every day. I love trying new brewing methods at home. I'm also lazy when it comes to my daily cup of coffee. I'm not willing to go through the ridiculous steps most coffee connoisseurs suggest for the "perfect" cup. With that in mind here are a few tips I've picked up over the years to make a good cup of coffee as conveniently as possible.
The review, which is the most exhaustive of its kind to date, was led by Esther Myers, specialist in systematic research reviews at the International Life Sciences Institute. Myers and her team, who are presenting the findings this week at the Experimental Biology conference in Chicago, looked at how different levels of caffeine affected people in the short and long term, taking special care to look for any adverse health effects in the cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, reproductive or behavioural areas.
After going over more than 700 studies on the safety of ingesting caffeine at various levels, the team found plenty of evidence to suggest that 400mg of caffeine, or four cups of coffee, is safe for healthy adults to ingest daily. It isn't going to make you any healthier, but it isn't doing any damage either. Pregnant women, on the other hand, are better off with 300mg or less, or three cups of coffee. This 400mg limit isn't new, though. It's been propagated by the FDA and the International Food Information Council since around 2003, when a smaller Health Canada review made the suggestion. Now, it seems safe to say that recommendation was right on the money.
What might happen if you drink more than that in a day? Myers' team found evidence of links to depression and dysphoria (general dissatisfaction with life), as well as anxiety, hypertension, and even higher numbers of sperm with DNA damage in men. Having that fifth cup of coffee for the day on occasion isn't completely unsafe if you're healthy, says Myers, but it's best not to make a habit of it. And if only one cup of coffee already has too much caffeine for you, maybe go with tea instead.
Coffee is great, but even die-hard coffee lovers might want to give tea a chance. The other beloved warm beverage, tea imparts to its drinkers some formidable health benefits, an extra boost of alertness without the same caffeine slump of coffee, and more variety. Here's how to get started enjoying the best possible tea.