Dr Norman Swan
Coffee is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world. People drink it for its perceived ability to improve alertness and concentration, and for its taste. The effect of coffee on our health is debated, with research observing both positive and negative associations across different health outcomes.
Roasted coffee contains a mixture of more than 1000 bioactive compounds, some with potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, providing a plausible basis for beneficial effects on health. Researchers systematically assessed the available evidence around the association between coffee consumption and a number of health outcomes.
The studies included level of coffee consumption in any adult population in any setting and in people in all health states.
A positive association between coffee consumption and beneficial health outcomes was observed across a number of areas. This included heart disease, some cancers, liver and gastrointestinal outcomes, metabolic disease and neurological outcomes. Consumption in pregnant women was associated with some harmful pregnancy outcomes.
This research suggests that there’s little harm in having a cup or two of coffee a day. People take to caffeine differently, however, so it’s important to know your limit. If you’re pregnant or have any existing health conditions talk to your doctor about what’s safest for you.