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What Are The Health Benefits Of Coffee?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Coffee lovers rejoice. Harvard researchers say the energy-boosting drink is not only healthy for you, but the more the better.

So what is the ideal amount of coffee we should drink? And what are the health benefits?

Whether it's jumpstarting our body in the morning or helping us enjoy the day, the wonders of the bean-turned-brew have many hooked.

Jeremiah Cornhel, who works at Diamonds Coffee Shoppe, described his coffee sweet spot as, "Anywhere between three and five [cups]."

"Two [cups] if I'm having a single seating, otherwise maybe three to four," said customer Tiernan Lenius.

Be proud, gentlemen.

A Harvard study tracking coffee consumption and brain health in older men found those who drank coffee have less cognitive decline than those who did not. Those drinking three cups a day had the lowest decline of all.

"I think done in certain quantities, it's not as harmful as you think it is," said Dr. Woubeshet Ayenew, a cardiologist at Hennepin Healthcare who also enjoys a couple cups himself. "I do not want three [cups] to be the floor but rather the ceiling people are thinking about. So a maximum of about three cups of coffee is what I get out of [the study]."

What are some of the health benefits of coffee?

Coffee Generic
(credit: CBS)

Another Harvard study found that daily coffee drinkers tend to live longer.

People often drink coffee prior to an activity, like work, exercise, running errands, or socializing with friends. All of those activities which can stimulate the body and mind.

"Anything that's not harmful that can get you outside, get you to socialize, to become more active, to be more engaged, chances are it will have overall good health benefits," Ayenew said.

Being active can lessen the risk of diabetes and lower blood pressure, he added.

Outside of the caffeine boost, coffee also has antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Ayenew said those properties can help prevent arteries from hardening, as well as buildup of cholesterol plaque in arteries.

But remember, many of the benefits discussed in the studies are from black coffee, not the popular sweeteners and flavors people add like cream and sugar.

"By the time you make it, you add your white chocolate mocha and everything, the coffee drink itself becomes a meal," Ayenew added.

Non-filtered coffee, such as a latte or French press, might taste better but they're not healthier. Filters trap oily substances during the brewing process that would raise your "bad" (LDL) cholesterol.

And just because a few cups benefit some people, that doesn't mean everyone should be getting a refill. Doctors say to stop if you feel jittery, and avoid coffee if you have issues sleeping.

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