The jury's still out when it comes to the health benefits of coffee. While some argue that it's an essential source of fiber and antioxidants, others believe that the negative side effects—including irritability, increased heart rate, and dehydration—aren't worth the caffeine boost.
But let's face it: Health risks aside, many of us aren't going to give up our daily caffeine habit (especially when our professional lives practically demand it). With that said, we're not opposed to considering certain health factors, including the healthiest way to take your coffee and the ideal amount you should drink in a day.
But it turns out the latter isn't that simple. "People metabolize caffeine at different speeds," writes Dr. Sharad P. Paul, a skin cancer surgeon, family physician, and author of The Genetics of Health, for Mindbodygreen. "Slow metabolizers of caffeine have a higher risk of heart attacks if they drink more than two cups of coffee per day; however, fast metabolizers have a reduced risk of a heart attack if they have at least a cup of coffee a day."
So how can you find out which camp you fall into? Unfortunately, only your genetic type will tell—a method Dr. Sharad describes in-depth in his book. Simply put, "people with the AA variant of the CYP1A2 gene are fast metabolizers, while those with the AC or CC subtypes of the gene are slow metabolizers," he explains.
For those who fall somewhere in the middle (like Dr. Sharad himself), it's best to limit caffeine to 300 to 400 milligrams each day, or about three to four cups. If you suspect you're a bit sensitive to caffeine (your heart typically races, you get anxious, you feel on edge, etc.), it's best to limit daily intake to one or two cups maximum.
For more, read up on the coffee recipes that will change your health, and share your thoughts on Dr. Sharad's method below.