Coffee, Coffee, Coffee

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Coffee

Written By Family and Consumer Sciences Intern: Tommy Hernandez 

What is it about coffee that has you drinking it? Is it the pleasant smell, the taste, the convenience, that warm feeling you get when drinking it on a cool morning, or perhaps you feel sluggish and need some early morning caffeine to get you started with your day? Coffee is the most widely consumed beverage, second only to water, and in the United States, it is consumed by 83% of adults.1

This means a majority of adults in the US drink some sort of coffee beverage! Now why is this? I think most people would tell you they drink it for the caffeine. Now I think aside from caffeine people will probably say they like the taste of coffee and that will be their reason for drinking it. It’s probably a combination of the two, but I think it’s just “the drink” that everyone consumes, I mean look at the statistic above; 83%?! Now caffeine isn’t the only thing that coffee has to offer, there are several reputable sources suggesting that coffee has many health benefits, so some non-coffee drinkers may be swayed into trying coffee. It should be known that both decaf and regular coffee have similar health benefits!

Benefits

The National Coffee Association references studies suggesting that coffee consumption, whether that be caffeinated or decaffeinated, decreases risk of some cancers such as liver cancer, colon cancer, and breast cancer.2 Other studies referenced by the National Coffee Association suggest that consumption of coffee may decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, and diabetes.2 Coffee also provides antioxidants! What are antioxidants? Antioxidants are chemicals that protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.3 What are free radicals? Free radicals are highly reactive, unstable chemicals, which can generate harmful chain reactions that can damage cells.4 Free radicals are naturally occurring substances in the body from natural cell processes.4 Caffeine in coffee stimulates the nervous system, which heightens alertness, and increases your metabolism.5,6 Caffeine has also been known to increase exercise performance, by decreasing perception of effort during exercise, and may also increase pain threshold in strenuous exercise.5,6

Cautions

While there is research-based evidence on the positive effects of coffee, there are some potential negative effects too. The caffeine in coffee may cause some sleep disturbance if too much is consumed, this may vary from individual to individual.5 Frequent coffee drinkers may experience withdrawals, which include headaches, fatigue, and moodiness if they stop drinking coffee abruptly.5 While withdrawals may be unpleasant to deal with, the symptoms usually go away within three days of abstaining from coffee.7 While coffee can be as little as 5 calories per cup, one should be cautious when adding cream and sugar as that can easily increase your caloric intake and possibly lead to weight gain.

Recommended Practices

The average American consumes around 200mg of caffeine daily, which is about 10 to 12oz, or about 1.5 cups of coffee.8 It is recommended not to exceed 400mg of caffeine daily according to the 2020-2025 dietary guidelines, as 400mg does not amount to harmful side effects.9 When trying to decrease or eliminate the intake of caffeine, to decrease the possible withdrawal symptoms, I would suggest decreasing the amount of caffeinated coffee consumption in small increments until you reach your desired goal. If you skip breakfast and opt for coffee instead, I would recommend trying to eat some breakfast maybe alongside your coffee as food can provide adequate energy for the day.

References

1.)    Chrysant SG. Coffee consumption and cardiovascular health. The american journal of cardiology. 2015;116(5):818-821. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2015.05.057

2.)   Health Caffeine

3.)    Powers SK, Howley ET. Exercise Physiology : Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance. Ninth ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2015.

4.)    West DF. Nutrition, Food, and Fitness : The Science of Wellness. Tinley Park, Ill.: Goodheart-Willcox; 2006.

5.)    Brown AC. Understanding Food : Principles and Preparation. 3rd ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth; 2008.

6.)    Dunford M, Doyle JA. Nutrition for Sport and Exercise. Third ed. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning; 2015.

7.)    McGee H. On Food and Cooking : The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. Completely rev. and updated ed. New York: Scribner; 2004.

8.)    Clark N. Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Fifth ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics; 2014.

9.)   Dietary Guidelines

Articles I read but did not necessarily use any info from them in my article:

Caffeine and Exercise

Benefits of Coffee