As a former magazine editor specializing in health and nutrition and an avid coffee drinker, I’m drawn to scientific studies revealing the positive effects of my daily habit. Earlier this year, I was particularly stoked when the federal advisory committee that helps write the Dietary Guidelines concluded that downing five cups a day can be part of a “healthy lifestyle.” The reason: an abundance of research showing that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of some serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Coffee appears to be protective against liver and colorectal cancers, and may reduce your odds of developing depression. Other studies have linked the drink with longevity.
When you think about it, the brew’s benefits aren’t all that surprising: Coffee boasts several important vitamins and minerals. It’s also the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, containing more of these free radical-fighters than a typical serving of fruits and veggies. Then, of course, there’s the caffeine. In addition to boosting energy levels, the stimulant has been found to enhance physical performance and elevate mood and memory.
I'm aware that sipping coffee, especially in large quantities, isn't for everyone. If you're pregnant or suffer from certain heart conditions or insomnia, it might be wise to forgo the joe. But if you enjoy several cups a day, ditch the guilt and let your mind and body reap the benefits.