Did you have a cup of coffee this morning? If so, you were in good company. According to the National Coffee Association’s annual study, 83% of Americans drink coffee, and 63% of them drink it daily. The survey also reported that consumption of traditional coffee is decreasing as more people choose espresso-based drinks. Single cup brewers (for example, Keurig K-cups) are also growing in popularity. K-cups now account for 25% of ground coffee sales in the United States, and approximately 16 million households owned the brewing machines by the end of 2013.
Medical research is also starting to show that coffee may actually be good for your health. Why the reversal? According to the Mayo Clinic, earlier studies did not consider that other high-risk behaviors, such as smoking and physical inactivity, used to be more prevalent in populations that consumed a lot of coffee.
According to a recent Harvard study, for most people, consuming up to six 8-ounce cups of coffee daily is a healthy, low-calorie choice, as long as the caffeine does not interfere with sleep. (Pregnant women and those with high blood pressure are still cautioned to avoid caffeine.) It is important to note that the 8-ounce cup of regular coffee referred to in the study contains 100 mg of caffeine, but a grande coffee at Starbucks has 330 mg of caffeine—so portion size is important. Furthermore, the health studies only looked at the benefits of drinking black coffee. Adding whole milk and sugar adds significant fat and calories, which can change the impact of the coffee on a person’s diet. The Harvard researchers found that for people with high cholesterol, it was better to drink coffee brewed with a paper filter. The paper filter helps remove a substance in coffee called cafestol that can increase a person’s cholesterol level.
According to newer research, drinking coffee may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer. Coffee may also improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression. For most people, that’s enough reason to refill their morning cups.