A Harvard Nutritionist Gives You Permission to Drink 5 Cups of Coffee a Day

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Those of us who drink a lot of coffee sometimes feel a little misunderstood — a little judged, even — by those who do not drink a lot of coffee. Recently, one Reddit user who apparently feels this way took advantage of an AMA with Vasanti Malik, a nutrition research scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, to ask about some vile rumors about the planet’s most perfect, most life-giving beverage:

What’s your take on coffee? I live in Utah and people around me keep saying it affects the lining of your stomach and its ability to consume nutrients. I’ve tried doing research on this and haven’t found much consistency in the answer, so I’d love to hear from a reliable source.

Malik’s answer: Not only is this stomach-lining claim not supported by any evidence — the bulk of the research on coffee highlights the drink’s benefits more than anything else. “Coffee, provided that it is minimally sweetened with sugar and not loaded with whipped cream, can definitely be part of a healthy diet,” Malik wrote. Whether caffeinated or decaf, it “contains a number of healthful vitamins and nutrients” — beyond that, research done by nutrition scientists at Harvard “have shown associations with reduced risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality.”

The best part, though, is this: These benefits are seen when a person consumes up to five cups of coffee per day. The questioner’s confusion is understandable, however: Headlines concerning nutrition research seem to dart back and forth with no discernible pattern. One day, coffee is good for you; the next, it is most certainly killing you. But as Dr. Aaron Carroll recently pointed out in his YouTube series, the best existing evidence shows almost no real health risks from drinking coffee. Go forth and refill your cup, now that you are armed with a brief primer on the latest coffee science has to offer.