Do you love coffee? You should probably be drinking even more

One down, four to go.
One down, four to go.
Image: Reuters/Jason Reed
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Unless you’re drinking at least three cups of coffee a day, you should consider upping your java habit.

The US dietary guidelines advisory committee, which makes recommendations to the Food and Drug Administration and other federal agencies, released a report this week that points to the health benefits and minimal risks of drinking three to five cups of coffee a day, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The report describes three to five cups (400 mg) as a “moderate range,” but if that’s more than you drink, you’re not alone: As Quartz reported last year, no country on earth drinks that much coffee per capita. The United States consumes about .93 cups per day per person, according to data from Euromonitor. The highest average intake was in the Netherlands, with 2.4 cups per person.

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Of course, those numbers don’t account for people too young to drink coffee, and the panel discourages children and adolescents from drinking caffeinated beverage. But even looking at the US population that is over 18, per capita consumption is only 1.21 cups per person—still way below the committee’s suggested coffee intake.

Committee member Tom Brenna, a nutritionist at Cornell University, told Bloomberg that since the advisory body last met in 2010, “there’s been a heck of a lot of work on coffee,” which led the advisory body to make its recommendations. “Coffee’s good stuff,” Brenna said. “I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer—nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.”

The committee did caution that people should watch how much calorie-heavy sugar and milk they add to their morning (and afternoon, and evening) joe. And it said “there is a need to consider sustainability issues of coffee production in economic and environmental terms.”

There’s also the cost to worry about. Let’s say you’re in the middle of the recommended allotment, downing 24oz a day. At a premium coffee chain like Starbucks that might cost about $2.50 per 12oz (355ml) of coffee, or $1,825 per year. Fortunately, it’s still considered safe to self-medicate at home.