Coffee has addictive properties, of course, which may be tugging at you even as you read this. But research increasingly says that giving into those impulses is okay–in fact it could be a good thing. The US recently revised its dietary guidelines (as it does every five years) and besides letting cholesterol off the hook, the big surprise is coffee. There’s a growing belief among researchers that coffee may help “protect against heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and diabetes, even if it is decaffeinated,” according to AFP--although these presumed benefits are not well understood.
The protective qualities of coffee will require more research. “Implying that coffee is going to cure cancer is not a very good thing to do,” said Tom Brenna, a Cornell professor who advised on the new guidelines. But even if it doesn’t protect you, it also doesn’t hurt you. The news that coffee isn’t harmful, even at three to five cups a day, comes as a relief for a nation that drinks a huge amount of it. And it’s probably good news for the teeth whitening business, too.