By Dr. Peter Kadile

I am a regular coffee drinker and I start my typical work day with a cup of fresh coffee at Old Town Coffee Company which is in my office building. The coffee gets my day going and actually helps me concentrate and think clearer. Scientists have discovered that long term coffee intake can protect brain cells and improve cognitive function and memory.

I frequently get questions from my patients and friends regarding coffee, so let me answer a few.

Hey Doc, I love my coffee. I usually have 2 to 3 cups a day, is this too much? – Aaron, La Quinta

Aaron, there is more and more research showing the health benefits of coffee. Coffee drinkers compared to nondrinkers, are less likely to have Diabetes Type 2, Parkinson’s Disease, dementia, certain abnormal heart rhythms and certain cancers. Coffee is noted to have high antioxidant activity (antioxidants are nutrients that help prevent tissue damage in the body). But remember moderation is the key, you can develop heartburn, elevated blood pressure and dehydration from too much coffee intake.

Dr. Kadile, is it better for me to drink a cup of coffee a day or not drink coffee at all? – Marci, Bermuda Dunes

Marci, a recent study by the National Institutes of Health looked at the relationship between coffee drinking and the risk of dying. Their findings showed that the risk of dying was significantly reduced in those who drank coffee compared to those who did not. The researchers also discovered that people who regularly drink coffee had decreased risk of dying from specific causes such as heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, infections and diabetes.

Dr. K, does coffee cause high blood pressure? – Michael, Cathedral City

Michael, caffeinated beverages may cause a short, temporary increase in blood pressure, but the degree to which it raises blood pressure varies from person to person. People who regularly drink caffeinated beverages may have a higher than average blood pressure than non-drinkers. Regular caffeine drinkers may have also developed a tolerance to the caffeine and thus the drug may have no effect on their blood pressure.

Coffee is generally not the cause of persistently elevated blood pressure or hypertension, but it may exacerbate existing high blood pressure in a non coffee drinker. If you want to know if coffee or other caffeinated beverages elevate your blood pressure, check your blood pressure before drinking the coffee (or other caffeinated drink) and then check your blood pressure half an hour to two hours after drinking. If your blood pressure is raised by five to ten points, then you may be sensitive to the blood pressure raising effects of caffeine.