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Coffee is a beverage that either you love it or hate it. For people who like it will drink it everyday; at least once in the morning during breakfast, and some heavy drinkers may consume as many as 10 cups a day.

On the other hand, people who hate it will blame its “stink” smell left in the mouth after drinking it, and more importantly the numerous bad effects or even harms that caffeine, which embedded in coffee, can bring to the body.

Being loved and consumed by millions of people, the role of coffee in health is somehow controversial. Over the years, numerous studies were conducted on its effect, either good or bad, on heart disease, diabetes and other diseases but no definite conclusion has been arrived so far.

For example, a study, conducted by University of Athens and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in June 2005, found that coffee drinkers' major blood vessels were stiffer than those of non-coffee drinkers. As such, the researchers urged those people, who have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease and drink more than three cups of coffee a day, to cut down on coffee consumption. In contrast, a report, published in Circulation Journal in May 2006, showed that coffee drinkers did not have a higher risk of heart disease, even for those whose coffee intake exceeding six cups per day.

Yet an interesting research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March 2006, reported that caffeine in coffee is unhealthy for some but beneficial to others, depending on a "gene" that determines how fast the chemical is metabolized.

There are researches that provided evidence of the beneficial effects that coffee can bring to our body, too.

For instance, a study, conducted by the University of Minnesota, reported in the Archives of Internal medicine that there is a link between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Nevertheless, it is still not clear that whether the protective effect is due to caffeine or other ingredients presented in coffee.

Another study done on more than 14,600 people in Finland, the heaviest coffee-drinking country, provided more evidence in March 2004 that the world’s most widely consumed beverage may reduce diabetic risk.

While the debates go on between different groups of researchers about the good and bad of coffee or rather caffeine, many people who drink coffee have the perception that the caffeine in the coffee can give them the energy they require to stay aware for whatever tasks they intend to accomplish.

Is this perception correct? Let us take a look of the findings of a survey of 30,000 people. Food or drink most associated with low energy levels was caffeine consumption. Those drinking 4 or more caffeinated drinks, be it tea, coffee or cola, had the lowest energy levels. Why?

The researcher who conducted this survey explained that caffeine will give an immediate boost to our blood sugar level by releasing adrenaline. Glucose is then released so that our muscle can work like hell. However, most of the day’s stresses do not require too much physical action so when we raise our adrenaline levels through drinking coffee, our bloodstream floods with glucose. Because the body does not need that amount of glucose produced, it turns into fat.

In the survey, people who consumed tea or coffee 4 or more times a day were 3 times more likely to suffer from very low energy levels.

Recently, in a small study of female college students, researchers found that a caffeine supplement (equivalent to 2 cups of coffee) seemed to lessen the muscle pain resulted a day after a challenging workout. Known as delayed-onset muscle soreness, the pain is common a day or two after a workout that was more intense than normal. Exercise that involves eccentric contraction of muscles is particularly likely to cause delayed muscle pain.

Despite the apparent positive effect of coffee, the researchers warned that before drinking a couple of cups of coffee before the workout, one should not ignore the possible negative side effects of caffeine: increased feelings of anxiety, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, upset stomach, increased urination and disrupted sleep.

How about decaf coffee? Since it is free from caffeine, can we can drink as much as decaf coffee as we like?

Though it may have far less caffeine than regular coffee but they may still have enough of the stimulant to cause physical dependence on them. Decaf coffee is often not totally caffeine-free, according to a study conducted by the University Of Florida College Of Medicine in Gainesville. The amount of caffeine though small could be harmful for people who must restrict their caffeine intake for medical reasons. That might include people with a type of kidney disease, individuals with anxiety, or those taking certain types of drugs.

The American Heart Association has said that studies looking at a direct link between caffeine, coffee, and heart disease have produced conflicting results, but 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day does not seem harmful.

So, don’t worry too much about drinking coffee if you are not advised by your doctors to abstain from coffee on medical grounds. But, do limit your intake to a maximum of 3 cups a day since drinking too much coffee can likely harm our body because of its negative side effects.