If you have resolved to give up coffee in the New Year, you can give yourself a break.
For experts say there is no need for most people to avoid coffee.
Professor Clare Collins, of the Dietitians Association of Australia, said: ‘One of the first things that people give up when they go on a health kick is coffee, and that’s a crazy thing to do, because there’s evidence of health benefits.’
Her detailed review of research on the topic concluded that coffee drinkers have a lower odds of developing liver cancer and of dying unexpectedly.
They are also at lower risk of type 2 diabetes, which develops when the body does not make enough insulin – a hormone key in the conversion of sugar into energy – or the insulin they do make does not work properly.
Professor Collins told the Australian edition of Good Food magazine: ‘When you look at the biochemical role of coffee, it seems to have a task at a cellular level that I would explain is a bit like a contract cleaner: it’s able to come in and speed up some important biochemical processes related to fixing damage in cells or clearing away debris so that some of the molecules related to insulin and glucose can work more efficiently.’
Research also suggests that caffeine helps protect the brain against Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Robyn Brown, an addiction specialist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience in Victoria, said: ‘Put it this way, if I had Parkinson’s disease in my family, I’d probably be drinking coffee every day.’
Other said that despite caffeine’s stimulant qualities, it is unlikely to cause a problem for most people.
And while many pregnant women avoid coffee all together, there is no evidence that up to 200mg of caffeine – the equivalent of one strong, barista-made coffee, or one instant coffee and a cup of tea – poses any risk to pregnancy.
However, coffee is not recommended for people with conditions in which a short-term increase in heart rate and blood pressure might stress the heart.
And children struggle to metabolise caffeine, meaning they should not start drinking coffee until their teens, say the experts.
The comments come after research published last month found coffee can help dieters stay slim.
A regular daily intake of two to four cups helps dieters keep flab at bay once they have shed the unwanted fat, said scientists at Hannover Medical School in Germany.
The high caffeine content seems to help the body resist the gradual weight gain that defeats so many slimmers – and other caffeinated drinks have the same effect.
Caffeine is the world’s most widely consumed stimulant and reports show it can boost daily energy expenditure by around five per cent.
Researchers sad combining two to four daily coffees with regular exercise would be even more effective at keeping the weight off.
In a report on their findings they said: ‘Caffeine consumers have a lower body mass index than those who consume little or no caffeine.
‘And high caffeine intake has also been linked with weight loss.
‘Our research suggests it might also support maintenance of that weight loss.’