Many of our favourite drinks contain the stimulant caffeine. It has often had a bad press, but what effects does it really have and are there any health benefits from our daily cuppas?



Caffeine is a drug that acts as a stimulant to the heart and central nervous system, and is also known to increase blood pressure in the short term, although there is no conclusive evidence of long-term effects on blood pressure.

The effects on blood pressure are most likely when caffeine is taken in excessive quantities or by highly sensitive people. In particular, people who are hypertensive are advised to avoid caffeinated drinks, while pregnant women are advised to limit their intake of caffeinated drinks to less than 300mg per day.

In the UK, 80 per cent of adults drink coffee every week. It's not the only beverage to contain caffeine, but it does contain the most.

Coffee has been linked with a number of the risk factors for coronary heart disease, including increased blood pressure and high blood cholesterol levels. However, no relationship has been found between coffee drinkers and the likelihood of developing coronary heart disease.

There is good news for coffee drinkers. It has been found that coffee may be beneficial in some areas of health. Early research has found that coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, kidney stones and colorectal cancer.

It's difficult to suggest a safe limit for coffee intake. However, it is advised that people with high blood pressure and pregnant women limit their caffeine consumption.

For the rest of the population, however, there is no evidence that coffee does any long-term harm. However, try and include plenty of non-caffeinated drinks throughout the day as well.

But remember that drinking water is still the best way of rehydrating our bodies, so for every cup you have, try to drink a glass of water too.(BBC)