Coffee gets a bad rap. One perennial argument against the so-called vice: It spikes your blood pressure.
Hypertension is nothing to take lightly. It puts you at risk for stroke and heart attacks, two of the biggest killers of men.
But here’s the thing: Coffee doesn’t raise your risk for hypertension, which is a chronic increase in blood pressure. It only jolts your B.P. for a few hours after drinking it—and even then, only in people who rarely drink it, says Italian researcher Giuseppe Grosso, M.D., Ph.D.
If your body isn’t used to caffeine, the chemical causes your blood vessels to narrow, which in turn cranks up your blood pressure, says Dr. Grosso. But a few hours later, your vessels return to normal and the effect fades.
If you’ve been drinking coffee for a month or more, your body builds up a tolerance and your blood pressure is unaffected, says Men’s Health cardiology advisor Prediman Krishan Shah, M.D.
The temporary bump in B.P. is harmless for most people, Dr. Shah says. Even guys with hypertension can safely drink one or two cups of coffee in a day.
What’s more, the short-term spike has nothing to do with your risk of developing chronic high blood pressure down the road, Dr. Shah says.
In fact, Dr. Grosso’s research shows that people who drink 3 to 4 cups a day actually have a lower risk for hypertension than non-coffee-drinkers, as long as they don’t smoke. That’s likely because coffee is rich in B.P.-lowering potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants, Dr. Grosso says.
Plus, other research shows that coffee may slash your risk for diabetes, kidney stones, multiple sclerosis, and some cancers. Not to mention, you know, tiredness. So drink up—without the guilt!