How Much Coffee Is Too Much?

Many of us look forward to our morning ritual of drinking a caffeinated beverage before work or to kickstart the day and boost our energy levels. However, little by little, a harmless coffee habit can turn into a serious dependency. For people with high-stress jobs, or who work at offices with free cappuccino machines, they may start to wonder how many cups is too much.

For one, if coffee starts to make you feel anxious, jittery, or leads you to experience higher highs and lower lows, you are not alone. Most decide that the benefits, such as improved stamina, focus, and energy, outweigh the drawbacks. Ultimately, you must be willing to have a conversation with yourself over whether coffee is really working for you, or against you.

A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition set out to help discover the tipping point when too much caffeine causes high blood pressure, a key heart disease risk factor.

The study looked at cardiovascular risk in nearly 350,000 participants who drank coffee. Researchers found that from one to five cups of coffee, there was no negative effect on heart health. Once the people went to their sixth cup of coffee, their risk of cardiovascular disease increased by 22%.

“In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day,” said study author Professor Elina Hyppönen, of the Australian Centre for Precision Health.

It’s important to clarify what exactly one cup of coffee means, as this definition can vary widely.

“If we assume one cup is … a standard measure of cup, it would approximately contain 75 mg of caffeine,” said Hyppönen. “If we look at caffeine content only, a double espresso is roughly equivalent to a normal coffee.” By comparison, a grande iced latte at Starbucks contains as much as 150 mg of caffeine.

Other studies have supported the notion that coffee could even decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and certain cancers, as well as boost brain health and metabolism.

That said, each individual is unique and will respond to inputs differently. For some, whether it’s a half a cup or 5 cups, they will feel exhausted throughout the day, or it may mess with their digestive process.

It’s important to look at the data, but also keep a note of how coffee makes you feel on a personal level. While many studies have excited the more than half of Americans who say they drink coffee daily, there are other reports that indicate coffee consumption could be linked to imbalanced sugar levels and lead to other health issues.