Mastering brew: How much coffee is too much?

For a lot of people, it’s hard to imagine a day without coffee – and that’s ok because the experts at Consumer Reports say drinking coffee can be good for your health.

“Coffee could actually lower your risk of certain liver diseases, some types of cancers, and type 2 diabetes -- and there’s some evidence that it can also lower your risk of heart disease and respiratory disease,” said Consumer Reports Health Editor Althea Chang-Cook.

Other research even suggests that if you drink coffee, you could live longer than non-coffee drinkers, in part because coffee is rich in antioxidants.

Great! But how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much?

“In general, the average person can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, the amount in three to five 8-ounce cups of coffee,” Chang-Cook said.

If you have a medical condition or caffeine sensitivity, it’s always best to check with your doctor, and always listen to your body. If your heart is thumping much faster than usual and you feel extra shaky and jittery, it’s probably time to lay off.

And if you love coffee but still want to sleep at night, Consumer Reports says finish your last cup around 2 p.m. That way, the majority of caffeine you’ve consumed has left your body by bedtime.

And while coffee can be good for you, Consumer Reports says it’s still important to pay attention to what you add to your coffee drink.

“For every teaspoon of sugar you add, you are consuming 16 calories and 2 ounces of whole milk adds another 38 calories and 2 grams of fat,” said Chang-Cook.

If you like to alternate between coffee and tea during the day, Consumer Reports says that can be good for you, too. In a study published last year, researchers found that people who drank two to three cups of coffee plus two or three cups of tea per day had about a 30 percent lower risk of dementia and stroke compared with people who didn’t drink either.