It is not surprising that many people are confused about how much coffee is too much coffee, because there is so much conflicting advice about the health effects of coffee, and whether it is good or bad for you. However, there does seem to be a consensus of opinion from health experts about how much coffee it is safe to drink, based on what is known about the health effects of caffeine.
Caffeine in coffee is known to cause a slight increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and too much coffee can cause irregular heartbeat. Caffeine can also have negative affects on mental health.
According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, medical research on coffee health risks shows that caffeine in coffee does have negative health effects, but moderate coffee drinking is quite safe.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that any adult consuming more than 500 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day ought to think about cutting down on coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
Mayo Clinic staff point out that measuring the exact amount of caffeine in each cup of coffee can never be precise, because the caffeine content can vary according to the brewing time, as well as on the process of roasting and grinding the beans.
Obviously the strength of the coffee, and how much coffee goes into each cup, will also affect the caffeine content of any individual cup of coffee. Even drinking coffee in the same coffee house or coffee shop chain each day, there will be a slight difference in the amount of caffeine contained in each serving.
An average cup of instant coffee may contain anything between 27 and 173 milligrams of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee, made from ground roasted beans, generally has a higher caffeine content of between 95 and 200mg. A 16oz coffee brewed by McDonald’s will contain around 100mg of caffeine, while a 16oz Starbucks Latte has around 150mg of caffeine, and a small 1oz espresso provides at least 40mg. Even a cup of decaffeinated coffee can contain between 4 and 25mg of caffeine.
Results of a medical investigation, on Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women, published in 2011, show that a woman who only consumes only one cup of coffee daily, or drinks coffee less frequently, is slightly more likely to suffer from depression than a woman who drink two to four cups of coffee a day regularly. This investigation was not able to prove conclusively that caffeinated coffee is an effective antidepressant, and some further evidence is required to substantiate that claim.
Studies on caffeine dependence, carried out at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reveal that a small amount of caffeine acts as a stimulant. An early morning coffee will lift a person’s mood when the body has suffered slight caffeine withdrawal during the hours of sleep.
Regular coffee drinking throughout the day can lead to a serious caffeine dependence, which is more likely to have a negative affect on mood and behaviour, often increasing anxiety and restlessness, causing headaches and other temporary symptoms.
Cutting out coffee completely, along with other caffeinated items, can cause a number of disturbing symptoms, so much so that caffeine withdrawal has now been officially listed as a psychological disorder.
All these recent studies of the health effects of coffee agree that excessive coffee drinking is not good for health. Drinking between two and four cups of brewed coffee a day is not harmful, but five or more coffees a day could be too much, if it means that daily intake of caffeine is more than 500mg.
It is wise for any coffee drinker to be aware of the effects of caffeine and to know how much coffee is too much. The health effects of coffee are both good and bad. A good cup of coffee can be enjoyed every day, as long as it is not the sixth, seventh or eighth cup of coffee consumed that day.