- Category: Nutrition
- Read Time: 4 Minutes
For a majority of people, the minute they open their eyes, they are already thinking about grabbing a cup of java. Over 83 percent of Americans drink coffee daily, with most consuming at least 2 to 3 cups a day. Whether you brew it at home or grab some at a local eatery, coffee seems to have become a mainstay in most peoples daily life. So what is the bottom line when it comes to whether coffee is deemed healthy or not? With over 1.5 billion cups being served up daily, one can only hope it is a healthy option.
Fortunately, the current research has shown coffee to remain a healthy option, as long as one is not drinking more than 3 cups a day. This guideline is based on the fact that the main ingredient found in coffee is a compound called caffeine. Caffeine is a natural compound made from over 50 plant sources. While caffeine in excess has been linked to some increased health risks, when consumed within moderate limits there are actually many health benefits.
Caffeine is most widely known for its ability to “wake us up,” which stems from its role as a stimulant. Caffeine affects the central nervous system, allowing the body to fight off tiredness, increase memory and enhance the ability to focus. One cup of coffee also contains a plethora of nutrients, including riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium, magnesium and niacin. Additionally, caffeine has been found to decrease the risk of diabetes (type 2) and stroke, and protect against cardiovascular disease. The consumption of coffee also has been found to help protect against Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. Coffee has also been found to be proactive against some cancers, including liver and colorectal cancer. So rest assured enjoying a cup of coffee may not only please your taste buds, but improve your overall health as well.
For those embarking on a weight loss journey, the question of adding coffee to their diet often is discussed. Will it help? Does coffee really help you lose weight? And the questions keep on coming. The good news is that yes in fact coffee may be helpful in achieving your journey to lose weight. In fact studies show that drinking coffee can aid in curbing your appetite, helping one to eat less and lose weight more easily. Coffee also acts as a diuretic, allowing for water loss that causes a temporary reduction in weight as well. For those who are getting in shape by working out, caffeine can serve as a powerful antioxidant that helps the body to recover from exercise. Keep in mind consuming coffee while on a diet plan, means to limit the extra calories that can come from milk and sugar. A small amount of raw honey or real maple syrup and a splash of milk or whatever milk alternative you prefer adds a lot of flavor with minimal calories.
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While it sounds like drinking a cup of joe is just what that doctor ordered, it is not without its concerns. In excess, caffeine has been linked to insomnia, irritability and can cause your heart to race. People who suffer from IBS may also find that coffee upsets their bowels, as it acts as a diuretic and stimulates movement, which can result in discomfort. Caffeine can also lead to increased episodes of heartburn and indigestion. For those who drink coffee regularly, there is a large concern about the possibility of an addiction to caffeine. For those who are addicted, withdrawal from caffeine can result in headaches and shakiness due to its absence in the diet. Always be sure to talk to your doctor - who has your health care information & history - about how coffee might benefit or harm your health.
The bottom line is keeping your coffee intake to a maximum of 3 cups a day will allow you to enjoy many health benefits, aid in weight management and leave the health risks behind. So go ahead and enjoy a nice cup of Joe!
M Mittler, MS Registered Dietitian