Nature's Power Juice...
There's nothing like a delicious "cup-o-joe" in the morning, wouldn't you agree?
Is it healthy? Is it toxic? There are folks on both sides of the fence to argue one or the other.
My personal opinion on coffee is this....
It's freaking awesome :).
In fact, I've recently taken my coffee drinking to a whole new level... (I'm even to hipster for Starbucks now!) I've gone from standard blonde blend coffee to single-origin pour overs...
When I do go out to get coffee, it's usually some artsy new-age shop built into the side of an old library...
How can you NOT feel "hipster cool" drinking coffee from a place like that? 😉
Like stated earlier, there is a lot of conflicting views towards coffee and caffeine in general. The research on coffee is mixed and it's likely due to things like:
- Differences in metabolism and genetics
- Interactions with cortisol and insulin
- Timing of intake
- Amount of intake
Because of the uncertainty of whether coffee is good or bad for us, I feel it's not within my "nutritional jurisdiction" to give you a clear-cut answer as to if you should avoid coffee or grab a second cup!
Instead, I want to present you with some of the reasons why I believe coffee is fantastic!...
Oh, and I guess I'll provide some of the evidence to support my coffee addiction...
I'll also dive into some of the reasons why coffee can be bad and how you can minimize the consequences associated with coffee consumption.This section will be quick because avoiding most of the negative side effects of coffee is to drink it black and in moderation!
(I may be biased, but I believe the benefits of coffee far exceed any possible adverse side effects).
The Scientific Benefits of Drinking Coffee
The good news here is that there are a TON of benefits of drinking coffee.
Coffee & Dehydration
One common belief is that drinking coffee (specifically because of the caffeine content) will cause dehydration. Luckily, this has been proven false. In this study, two groups of habitual coffee drinkers either drank 800mL of coffee or water.
The study concluded that the hydration levels between the two groups ended up the same.
The takeaway here is that drinking coffee does not cause dehydration (assuming no more than 3-6 cups are consumed). This is because the liquid content outweighs the dehydrating aspects of caffeine.
Coffee & Energy
You already know how glorious that morning cup of coffee makes you feel...
The caffeine in coffee provides many mental and physical performance benefits. In fact, people who regularly drink coffee perform better on tests and have faster reaction times.
Coffee & Essential Nutrients
Most people don't realize that coffee actually has quite a decent number of nutrients in it. For example, here is what you get in a typical cup-o-joe:
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): 11% of the RDA.
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5): 6% of the RDA.
- Manganese and Potassium: 3% of the RDA.
- Magnesium and Niacin (B3): 2% of the RDA.
It may not seem like a lot, but these numbers can start to add up if you are like most people and drink 3-4 cups a day... (source)
Coffee & Diseases
Coffee has actually been shown to lower the risk of many diseases. Some of these include Type 2 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, Dementia, Parkinson’s, and certain kinds of cancer. (source)
Now, as the saying goes - "Correlation does NOT equal Causation".
Just because coffee is CORRELATED with a reduced risk of many diseases doesn't mean it's the CAUSE.
Coffee & Antioxidants
The leading theory as to why coffee is associated with a reduced risk of many diseases is because of the amount of antioxidant it contains.
Interestingly, coffee contains a massive amount of antioxidants!
Considering most people are eating the typical American diet of zero fruits and veggies, coffee may just be the biggest source of antioxidants in folks who eat the standard American diet! (source, source)
Coffee & Fiber
One overlooked benefit of coffee is that it contains a good amount of fiber! Along with getting a decent percentage of daily nutrients and antioxidants from coffee, you can expect to get 1.5-2g of fiber per average cup of coffee. (source)
[Black] Coffee & Cavities
What? doesn't coffee make your teeth yellow?
While excessive coffee consumption can cause stains to show up on your teeth over time, they may actually protect against cavities.
Brazillian Researchers found that black coffee potentially kills the bacteria on teeth that often leads to tooth decay. However, it's important to note that adding milk or sugar to coffee negates this benefit. (source)
Possible Negatives of Coffee
Although coffee has a plethora of positive benefits, it doesn't come without some negatives. I'm sure you are aware of the jitters you get from drinking too much coffee or an annoying headache that comes from skipping your normal morning joe.
Having said this, almost all of these negative effects can be eliminated if you do these two things:
1. Don't drink too much coffee
That is, stay in the "safe range" of 1-5 cups. (better yet, try not to exceed 500 mg of caffeine a day!)
2. Drink coffee black
That's right. No sugar or cream. If you are drinking 3-5 cups of coffee a day and pouring cream in sugar into each cup, the calories can quickly start to add up and what was a beneficial drink turns into an excess caloric monster!
If you can't drink coffee completely black, then start slowly cutting back on the amount of added cream and sugar you are using. Another good way to make black coffee taste better is to take a page out of my book and start drinking delicious fresh coffee :).
With these things in mind, I recommend you drink between 1-3 (no more than 5) 8-ounce cups of coffee a day - and preferably black coffee!
I put an emphasis on 8 ounces because a "cup" of coffee could be different depending on how your coffee is prepared. If you are filling up a 16-ounce mug, then my recommendation goes down to about two mug-filled cups).
Coffee has some amazing benefits for both your health and your taste buds! Most of the negative effects of coffee come from overdoing the caffeine and the sneaky calories that come from adding in cream and sugar.
Stick to no more than 3-5 eight-ounce cups of black coffee a day and you should expect to get all the fantastic benefits of coffee without the negatives.