Yes, coffee is actually good for you — here's what science has to say about it

by Gene Kim , Joe Avella and Kevin Reilly

Is coffee actually good for you? How many cups a day is considered healthy? Is drip coffee worse than espresso? Joe Avella and Jessica Orwig answer these questions and more on the Facebook series "Science the $#!* out of it."

Turns out, coffee is good for you. But there's more to the story. There's a limit to how much caffeine you should drink. The FDA recommends no more than 400 mg of caffeine per day.

But be careful about what time of day you drink coffee, especially if you're sensitive to caffeine's effects. The half-life of caffeine is about six hours. So, if you have a cup of coffee at 8 am, 25% of the caffeine in that cup will still be in your system by 8 pm.

So, having coffee with your breakfast is probably better than sipping it with your dessert. Learn more about coffee as Avella and Orwig hash it out.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Joe Avella: Man, I love coffee. Tastes so good and makes me feel good. But is it good for me? Huh. Hey, Jess! You're basically a scientist. Is coffee good for me?

Jessica Orwig: Well, Joe, you're about to find out! 'Cause we're gonna science the (bleep) out of it.

Avella: Noice.

Avella: Let me tell you what's happening in my brain before I drink coffee.

Orwig: Okay.

Avella: Life sucks. What's my middle name, shoe size, last name? Oh my god I want some coffee. So I drink it, and I'm like yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Orwig: Caffeine is the most popular psychoactive drug in the world. And the way most people get it is through coffee. When you drink the coffee, the caffeine actually hijacks your brain. There are receptors in your brain meant for a chemical called Adenosine. And Adenosine is what actually makes you feel tired, but when you drink caffeine, the caffeine takes control of those receptors, and doesn't leave any room for the Adenosine, and that's why you feel alert. So, how many cups do you drink during the day?


Avella: Let's see. I would say on average probably like, between five and eight.

Orwig: You should be drinking no more than 400 milligrams.

Avella: Which is what, 400 cups?

Orwig: *Laughs* No, depending on, 'cause each cup is different in terms of how much caffeine is in it,

Avella: Okay. But ...

Orwig: Wait, I'm sorry, 400 milligrams of caffeine. The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. There's about 142 milligrams of caffeine in this 12 fluid ounce coffee mug. So that's about three mugs a day.

Avella: Okay, but so what if I have more than that? One thing that I'm always worried about when drinking coffee, 'cause lots of times I'll be drinking, and I'll feel like my heart like just going like super fast, and I automatically think, oh my god, I'm gonna die from drinking coffee. Is it possible that I could actually drink so much coffee that I die? And how can I find out how much will kill me? And, so I can drink just a little bit less.

Orwig: *Laughs* So it's not necessarily drinking too much coffee that's gonna kill you. It's the caffeine in the coffee that's gonna kill you. There was a study that showed that if you drank 12 highly caffeinated energy drinks within a few hours, you would most likely die. So Joe, is that coffee filtered?

Avella: It is.

Orwig: That's actually healthier for you.

Avella: Ha ha, yeah!

Orwig: Coffee contains over 1,000 compounds. Some of those compounds are healthy antioxidants, but there's something else in coffee that according to one study, can actually raise your cholesterol levels. But if you drink filtered coffee, the filtering process actually prevents those cholesterol-raising compounds from reaching your cup.

Avella: According to something I read online, caffeine affects your sleep, and you need a good like five hours to get it out of your system.

Orwig: It should be more like six hours. Because the half life of caffeine is about six hours. So it'll take six hours for your body to metabolize 50% of the caffeine in there. So basically then that means if you have a cup of coffee at 8 a.m., you're still gonna have 25% of the caffeine that was in that coffee in your system by 8 p.m.

Avella: *Expletive* So for the average viewer who's watching this and probably drinks coffee but not as much coffee as I drink, is coffee good for you or not?

Orwig: The overall consensus is yes.

Avella: Aha!

Orwig: According to the latest scientific research, coffee can reduce your risk of certain cancers, like liver and uterine cancer.

Avella: Nice.

Orwig: And reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Avella: Nice.

Orwig: Type 2 diabetes.

Avella: Nice.

Orwig: And possibly reduce your risk of Alzheimer's Disease.

Avella: N-n-nice.

Orwig: And so yeah, overall coffee is relatively good for you.

Avella: Hell yeah. Cancer-free, sharp brain, plenty of energy, terrible breath, sorry by the way. We weren't supposed to- we didn't know we were gonna stand this close. So conclusion, coffee is the (bleep).

Orwig: You should probably stop drinking when you get older. Because drinking coffee within the first hour, it can actually raise your blood pressure.

Avella: Like in the day?

Orwig: Within the first hour of drinking.

Avella: Okay. Yeah. I'm probably not gonna do that.

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