Coffee is, in addition to being wildly popular and delicious, often linked to various health benefits.
Studies have indicated that moderate consumption of coffee could be associated with reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, gout, and liver disease. But what exactly does “moderate” mean? A new study from the University of South Australia is the first to pinpoint an exact number of cups for maximum coffee-drinking health.
The study analyzed a massive chunk of data—nearly 350,000 records of health and diet—to find out where the line is between a helpful amount of coffee and too much. Specifically looking at cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that people who drink decaf coffee and people who drink no coffee at all were at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
But when people drank more than six cups of coffee per day, their risk of cardiovascular disease spiked: these coffee addicts were 22 percent more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than people who drank caffeinated coffee at a lower level. It’s theorized that the excess of caffeine could produce higher blood pressure, which itself is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
One possible weirdness to the study is that the data the researchers analyzed was self-reported, and self-reported diet data is notoriously unreliable. In some cases, that’s so that people can present themselves as, say, eating more healthfully than they actually do. In this case, any errors are most likely to come from innocent error.
A cup of coffee—in the literal interpretation of a cup as unit of measurement—is eight ounces; the most popular size of a takeout coffee cup is 12 ounces, and 16 or 20 is not uncommon. The average amount of coffee consumed by coffee drinkers each day is three cups, according to the National Coffee Association. That means that six cups wouldn’t be unheard of; certainly there are people drinking three large coffees per day, which would clock in at a whopping 7.5 cups, way more than this research indicates is safe.
So enjoy your cup of coffee—just don’t order too many more.