A survey conducted in May 2013 found that 54 percent of Americans drink coffee every day and another 24 percent drink it occasionally. The main ingredient in coffee is, of course, caffeine. An average cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine. While caffeine consumption is not healthy for everyone, most people can enjoy a few cups of coffee every day with no harmful effects. And there may even be some health benefits of caffeine consumption.
The Surprising Health Benefits of Caffeine
A study came out a few years ago indicating that coffee was dehydrating. Unfortunately, this information became widespread. Turns out, the study was flawed and, in fact, coffee is as hydrating as water. Even the U.S. military examined any dehydrating effects of coffee and did tests of its own. It "found no detrimental effects of caffeine on 24-hour urine volume."
For increasing your energy before exercise, caffeine can't be beat. There are many clinically sound studies verifying that caffeine helps both endurance exercise and short-term, high-intensity exercise. Surprisingly, the average increase in performance is about 12 percent, and more caffeine health benefits are noted in endurance than short-term exercise. The down side is if you're not tolerant of caffeine, you may just end up feeling nauseated.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has reviewed the effects of caffeine, good and bad, and in 1958, caffeine was listed as "generally recognized as safe." In terms of how much is a safe amount to drink daily, the conclusion seems to be that consuming up to 400 mg per day is not associated with negative health effects (and that's about four cups of coffee per day). Since caffeine is a stimulant, it is classified as a drug and is mildly addictive.
Be aware that caffeine level differs per the brand of coffee. McDonald's coffee has 9.1 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce. While Caribou Coffee has 15 mg per fluid ounce, and Starbucks has a whopping 20.6 mg per fluid ounce.
For some people, one of the benefits of caffeine is being more mentally alert. If you drink several cups of coffee every day, you probably aren't getting the same "alertness" as someone who drinks a cup once a week. There are some studies indicating that daily consumption of caffeine may delay or prevent the onset of certain diseases, but there is no conclusive evidence available now. More studies are needed to verify these claims.