What about coffee?

Published in Lifestyle Health, For the Health of It Author: Clara Vancura, Registered Dietitian

Is it healthy? Should I cut back? How much is too much? What’s the best way to drink it? Am I addicted if I drink ____ cups a day? How much creamer can I put in? What about decaf? What if I drink it all day?

These are just a few questions I get from patients and staff who love their coffee. My answer is usually, “I LOVE coffee, too! I just finished my second cup!”

But let’s take a look at some facts that are not swayed by my own tastes and preferences.

Positives

  • Caffeine can help perk you up in the a.m. and increase cognitive function.
  • Coffee provides a great source of antioxidants in the American diet (mainly due to the large amount that we consume) that may have some disease-preventing effects. The exact mechanism for this is not yet known and currently is being researched.
  • Coffee can be a great way to get in additional milk. Milk is a great source of calcium, something that many Americans fall short of — especially women.
  • Coffee contains small amounts of potassium, niacin, vitamin E and magnesium. However, this does not qualify it as your morning “vitamin” or meal by any means.

Negatives

  • The new coffee obsession has American’s drinking a lot more sugar and fat than realized. At Caribou Coffee for example, a medium pumpkin white chocolate mocha made with 2% milk and whipped cream on top is 700 calories, 31g fat and 97g of carbohydrate. To put this into perspective, a regular sized snickers bar has 250 calories, 12g fat and 33g carbohydrate. Check out your favorite coffee drink online and be informed.
  • There is such a thing as too much. (Darn!) A moderate amount of coffee is considered to be around three 8 ounce cups a day.

Caution

If you have a history of hypertension, the additional caffeine in coffee can cause increased blood pressure for a short period of time.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit caffeine intake to a maximum of 200-300 mg a day (two to three cups of coffee).

Needing to make a change? Decaf coffee contains only 4 mg of caffeine versus 130 mg in a cup of regular coffee, and it still goes well with milk and contains those great antioxidants.

Now, you will have to excuse me… I need to go get a refill.