Many Americans can’t start their day without it. A cup of coffee, or two, is essential to feeling energized and sharp. Some even choose not to say a single word til they’ve had their first sip. This kind of addiction has long sparked talks of caffeine caps, but the U.S. government had steered clear of advising on the topic—until now.
When the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released by the Agriculture and Health and Human Services Departments in January, they mentioned “caffeine” 38 times and “coffee” 23 times. Finally, the java-colored elephant in the room was acknowledged, unlike in the 2010 guidelines where “caffeine” was completely ignored and “coffee” came up only in passing, a mere three times.
What led to this breakthrough? Members of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee decided to investigate caffeine and coffee and publish a report in February 2015—almost a year before the new guidelines were issused—with recommendations for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
“Going in, we had the sense that regular coffee drinking could provide more caffeine than would be healthy,” says Tom Brenna, Ph.D., a professor of human nutrition and chemistry at Cornell University and a member of the advisory committee. “When we looked carefully, we found [this wasn’t] true, on average. The literature does not support any of that and, in fact, i…