At my annual check-up my doctor discovered that I have high blood pressure. If I cut out coffee will it help my blood pressure?

You are wise to think about your diet in terms of managing hypertension. However, caffeine and coffee does not increase blood pressure in the long term. In fact, major studies indicate that individuals who stop drinking coffee do not experience a drop in blood pressure. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada states that drinking up to four cups every day is not linked to serious health problems.

Will drinking coffee cause cancer?

The Canadian Cancer Society advises Canadians that there is no evidence that coffee or caffeine increases the risk of cancer. So go ahead and enjoy your daily coffee. In fact, you might even be doing yourself some good. An emerging body of evidence is showing that coffee consumption may have a role in certain types of cancer. For example, studies have shown that risk of liver cancer may be cut in half for coffee drinkers.

My doctor tells me if I don’t get my weight down I could develop type 2 diabetes and I am worried. Should I make changes to what I am eating and drinking?

Check out Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating. The best approach is to eat sensibly with a focus on fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. Get plenty of fluids, with several glasses of water each day, and stay away from sugary juices and sodas. No need to give up coffee in moderate amounts though. In fact, research shows that daily coffee consumption could cut your diabetes risk by as much as 30 per cent.

I am pregnant and confused about whether coffee is safe for my baby. Should I drink coffee at all and, if I can, how much is safe?

Women want what is best for their baby and pregnancy is a time when most women become very health conscious about their food and drink choices. Thinking about coffee is certainly part of this. In fact, the research on this topic shows that drinking coffee daily is perfectly safe both during pregnancy and while you are breastfeeding. My advise is to go for moderation and follow Canada’s official guidelines for pregnant and breastfeeding women. For women of childbearing age, the new recommendation is a maximum daily caffeine intake of no more than 300 mg, or a little over two 8-oz (237 ml) cups of coffee.

I really enjoy my morning coffee but I have heard that I should stay away from it to keep my bones healthy as I get older. Can I continue to have coffee every day?

The best way to prevent osteoporosis is to get plenty of calcium and vitamin D into your diet and look to weight bearing exercise to help build bones. It is a common misperception that coffee prompts the body to excrete calcium and therefore is a contributor to osteoporosis risk. While high levels of daily coffee consumption are not recommended, if you like coffee go ahead and enjoy it in moderate amounts. All the better if you drink it with milk.

My father has Parkinson’s disease and I want to do everything I can to make sure I don’t ever suffer from this illness. Will drinking coffee have any effect?

As a health professional, I am always cautious about making recommendations. Various research studies support the possibility that coffee may reduce your risk of developing Parkinson’s, although at this point this connection is not absolutely proven and so medical experts are hesitant to suggest that we increase our coffee consumption for this purpose. Understanding of the prevention, causes and cure for this devastating disease is still evolving.

How much coffee do I need to consume to benefit from antioxidant intake?

If you looking to increase your antioxidant intake, coffee is certainly a step in the right direction. Research has shown that coffee, either regular or decaffeinated, is rich in polyphenol antioxidants which have powerful disease-fighting properties. The question of how much coffee is necessary to get benefits is yet to be answered definitively but some experts suggest that even a couple of cups per day are beneficial. Researchers are also in the process of gaining understanding of how antioxidants derived from coffee are absorbed and utilized in the body. The best advice is moderation and I suggest that you consume a wide variety of foods and beverage sources that contain high levels of antioxidants.