We are a nation of coffee addicts — last year alone we spent almost £1?billion on it. Our caffeine habit was vindicated last week when Swedish researchers revealed women who drink five or more cups a day could be protecting themselves against an aggressive form of breast cancer.
But with other research suggesting high doses of caffeine can pose risks to health, just how much coffee should you be drinking a day? To help you decide, we reveal the benefits — and risks — of your daily intake.
PROS: Drinking just one cup of a coffee a day could reduce your blood pressure, according to a Greek study of 485 people aged 65 to 100.
The researchers found those who drank between one and two cups daily had the healthiest arteries.
The scientists believe this is due to antioxidants in the coffee increasing the production of nitric oxide, a compound found naturally in the body. Nitric oxide helps relax artery walls, and lowers blood pressure.
And a single cup could boost your brainpower, too: a Bristol University study of 600 people found those who had a cup of regular coffee performed better in mental tests than those who drank decaffeinated coffee or nothing.
This may be because caffeine causes more sugar to travel to the brain, giving it extra energy and creating a temporary ‘lift’, says Dr Sarah Schenker, a dietitian.
CONS: Even one cup during the day could keep you counting sheep late into the night, says Sian Porter, of the British Dietetic Association. It takes around eight hours to completely remove caffeine from the body, she explains, so don’t drink a cup after 3pm to 4pm if you suffer from sleep troubles.