Bad Habits You Don't Need to Kick
Your Habit: Coffee
The upside: Getting a regular jolt of java may actually be better for your health than abstaining. "People assume that coffee intake is bad, but that's not true at all," says David Liebeskind, MD, associate neurology director of the UCLA Stroke Center. His research shows that drinking three or more cups of coffee a day reduces stroke risk by 48 percent. Another stat worth remembering: A new study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee a day had a 65 percent lower risk of developing dementia than those who drank little or none. Research also shows that coffee may help prevent Parkinson's disease, type-2 diabetes, liver cancer, and gallstones. What's so magical about java? "It could be the caffeine or some other component in coffee, or it could be how the caffeine interacts with the other components," Dr. Liebeskind says.
When you've crossed the line: If you're pregnant, the less caffeine you consume the better. A Kaiser Permanente study found that more than 200mg of caffeine per day -- roughly the amount in one to two 8-ounce cups of regular coffee -- increased miscarriage risk in pregnant women by 25 percent.
An expanding waistline may also be a sign you should cut back -- at least on fancy java drinks. A Venti (20-ounce) cup of brewed coffee at Starbucks has only 5 calories; a Venti Caffe Mocha with two-percent milk and whipped cream contains 410 calories and 17 grams of fat, prompting the Center for Science in the Public Interest to dub it "a Quarter Pounder in a cup."