How many daily cups of coffee are safe? Study offers surprising answer

Coffee is often touted for its energizing effects, and it is widely consumed in some countries starting at relatively young ages. The array of polyphenols and other beneficial compounds found in coffee beans are the basis for many health claims associated with the beverage, but questions remain over how much is too much. Researchers with the University of South Australia have found that you're most likely drinking a safe amount of coffee daily, but a small number of people may need to cut back.READ: Just seeing coffee is enough to make your mind more alert

If you drink fewer than half a dozen cups of coffee per day, you're most likely not jeopardizing your health with the habit, according to a new study. However, people who drink six or more coffee beverages every day were found to have up to a 22-percent increased risk of heart disease.

The findings are concerning given the huge number of heart disease cases around the world — it continues to be the leading cause of death globally, and many things may contribute to its development.

The issue isn't the coffee product itself, but rather the element that makes it so popular: caffeine. As with other stimulants, caffeine can cause an increase in blood pressure, and consuming too much caffeine on a regular basis may push it above safe limits. High blood pressure is a known risk factor for developing heart disease.

According to the Australian Centre for Precision Health, this is the first time a study has identified a daily limit for coffee consumption beyond which negative heath effects may be experienced. One of the researchers behind the study, Professor Elina Hyppönen, explained:

We also know that risk of cardiovascular disease increases with high blood pressure, a known consequence of excess caffeine consumption. In order to maintain a healthy heart and a healthy blood pressure, people must limit their coffees to fewer than six cups a day – based on our data six was the tipping point where caffeine started to negatively affect cardiovascular risk.