The great debate: Is coffee good for you?

(NBC) - How healthy is that cup of joe you enjoy each day??

The debate has raged for years, and now, the National Institutes of Health is weighing in on the subject.

"There may be some suggestion [it could be good for the heart]. It may be in women, it may a little cardioprotective, but I don't think anyone should have their coffee thinking they're getting a benefit out of the buzz they get from the coffee," Dr. Raul Mitrani, a cardiologist said.

However, it does increase a person's heart rate, which can be a problem for some.

"In some people who are susceptible to arrhythmias, which is another term for abnormal heartbeats, the coffee can trigger their abnormal rhythms and abnormal rates. Some people who have the arrhythmias already may need to stay away from coffee," Mitrani said.

That recommendation goes for pregnant women as well.

"Caffeine can block the absorption of calcium, so when you block the absorption of calcium if you're drinking alot of coffee, what's going to happen is your bones are going to get weaker," Judi Wilcox, a registered dietician, said.

However, for most of us, a couple of cups a day pose no real health risk.

Because of its increasing popularity, coffee has been the focus of a lot of recent research.

"Coffee beans are seeds, so they have a protective coating on them. Just like they protect their coating, they contain antioxidants, and they're finding now it could potentially protect DNA," Wilcox said.

That might explain some possible coffee benefits, which include reducing the risk of liver cancer, type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's Disease.

While coffee might help keep blood sugar more stable, it can also lead to a rise in LDL cholesterol.

How coffee is brewed might make a difference, too. Using paper filters can help remove some of the components that can lead to higher levels of bad cholesterol.

©2009 NBC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.