Coffee: Good or Bad?

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. In Italy, people down 14 billion espressos every year. But the coffee-guzzling king is Finland, where residents drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world. Clearly, coffee is one of our favorite beverages, but is it good or bad?
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Americans down 400 million cups of coffee every day. In Italy, people sip 14 billion espressos every year. But the coffee-guzzling king is Finland, where residents drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world.  Clearly, coffee is one of our favorite beverages, but is it good or bad?
The Good
Okay, so here are coffee's positive points:

Low cal: The black stuff is virtually calorie-free.

Full of antioxidants: Coffee -- decaf and caffeinated -- contains a staggering amount of good cell-protecting antioxidants. (But don't think your morning java means you can skip other potent sources such as fruits and veggies!)

Other health benefits: Because its so popular, researchers have investigated this brown brew a lot. Some new research suggests drinking coffee may decrease your risk of type 2 diabetes, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.

The Bad
Now here are the negatives to keep in mind:

Caffeine overload: Too much caffeine can affect your blood pressure, heart function, anxiety and give you an upset stomach. Sure, it helps perk you up, but don’t confuse that with giving you energy (only calories from food can do that). Caffeine also interferes with our calcium absorption, which can negatively affect long-term bone health.

Sugary, fatty add-ins: Some gourmet coffees and lattes tip the scales at more than 400 calories thanks to the extra fat and sugar. Adding a small amount of sugar or milk (even half and half) is fine -- just pay attention to portions and how many cups you're drinking a day.

Pricey perk: Those same dress-up coffees can also drain your wallet. Stop and add up the cash you spend on daily coffee runs -- you might be able to make an extra car payment. To save, make your cup of Joe at home or the office.

Bottom Line: There's no clear-cut right side of the coffee debate. If you’re not currently a coffee drinker, there’s no need to adopt the habit -- you can get its antioxidants and health benefits from other foods. If you're a drinker, stick to a moderate amount (1 to 2 cups a day) to reap some of the benefits.

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