Good news for people who need a coffee to function in the morning: You can stop feeling bad about your chemical crutch because there is now a medical justification for drinking Java. The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which makes recommendations to the government, has found that consuming three to five cups a day isn’t bad for you. In fact, it’s actually good for you, as it can decrease your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Tom Brenna, a member of the committee, said this in a phone interview with Bloomberg:

I don’t want to get into implying coffee cures cancer—nobody thinks that. But there is no evidence for increased risk, if anything, the other way around.

It might not cure cancer, but there is evidence that moderate coffee consumption can help prevent skin cancer. A National Cancer Institute study found that participants who drank four coffees a day were 20% less likely to develop melanomas. (Although researchers stressed that sunscreen is still the best protection against skin cancer.)

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There are other health benefits to moderate coffee consumption. Studies have linked three to five cups a day to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and a lower likelihood for depression. Unscientific observation of ourselves before we’ve had coffee in the morning supports both those conclusions; we’re definitely less grumpy and forgetful after our first cup of Joe.

Although America is the world’s biggest consumer of coffee, we only down 1.7 cups a day on average, according to Bloomberg. That means most of us would be better off drinking more coffee than we currently do.

But if you really want to cover all your bases, you should also make sure you’re drinking plenty of beer to keep your brain healthy. A pint of two in the evening might also help you fall asleep after ingesting all that caffeine earlier in the day.

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[via the Washington Post]