Can't Function Without Your Morning Cuppa Coffee?

September 11, 2017

Your Morning Cuppa Coffee...

Is it good or bad for your health?

I absolutely love my morning coffee, that beautiful aroma that fills the air followed by that delicious warm sip. Always great start to my morning but it seems I am not alone: after water, tea and coffee are the most consumed drinks worldwide and Canada scores 3rd for the total amount of brewed coffee consumed! (statistics were compiled by a global marketing company, Euromonitor). Only Netherlands and Finland beat us!

 

But ever since I have become more mindful of all that goes into my body I have found myself pondering the question, what are the health implications of my first cuppa?

 

 

Let’s start at the beginning:

 

What is coffee?

Coffee comes from the brewing of roasted beans/seeds from the plant Coffea.

What’s in a coffee bean?

It is very complex with many active compounds, the one most commonly associated with coffee is caffeine. Cafestol is less well known but I am going to mention in this article.

 

Okay, so now that we know what coffee is

 

What do we mean by one cup of coffee?

I think that this is an important question as the size seems to vary when you buy your coffee from your favorite coffee shop! Health Canada states the standard size for 1 cup is 8oz.

 

But how much caffeine is in 1 cup of coffee?

Again this is really depends on how the coffee was brewed, but below is a guideline taken from the Mayo clinic:

 

 

 

Now that we have established a baseline, let’s discuss:

 

Is coffee for everyone?

The answer is NO.

 

As some of you might already know, pregnant mums and breast feeding mums should consult with their doctors before consuming coffee! The American pediatric society states that there is no place for stimulant energy drinks in the diet of children.

 

Also, there are people who cannot tolerate coffee and will have symptoms such as anxiety, nausea, gastric reflux, palpitations, and insomnia. So of course, if you’re one of these individuals, you should avoid coffee too!

 

So what if you’re none of the above?

 

What does the research say about how much coffee is okay?

This again, of course, is going to vary person to person and you have to see what works for you!  Health Canada recommends that adults limit their caffeine intake to no more than 400mg/day. This is about the amount found in three 8-ounce cups of coffee. But according to research papers the maximum is 6 cups daily. (Seems quite relieving doesn’t it?! I know I was excited to read that!)

 

But, remember that I mentioned earlier, the amount of caffeine varies depending on how your coffee is brewed?

 

What type of coffee is best?

Obviously people will prefer different types according to taste buds and where they grew up, but in terms of caffeine and cafestol it seems that filtered coffee and instant coffee are best!  Coffee made in a French press has the highest caffeine and cafestol content. And if you’re an espresso lover, espresso seems to sit somewhere in between the two!

 

I know that I’ve been mentioning ‘cafestol a lot’ but

 

What is Cafestol?

It is the oily part of the coffee, which gets filtered out when we use a filter coffee maker but remains in a French press. The reason we’d want to limit cafestol intake is because it causes elevation of LDL (bad cholesterol).

 

Okay, now the moment of truth, is coffee good or bad for you? First, list discuss the pros and cons!

 

What are the health benefits of coffee?

Caffeine in coffee is a central nervous system stimulant, so it seems to make you more alert and keep you awake! But remember, coffee has many active compounds which can interact with your body and we still have much research that needs to be done into the many effects that other active compounds in coffee might have on the body. Kind of alarming isn’t it? But what we do know is that coffee within limits is safe to drink.

 

Typical moderate intake of coffee is not associated with increased risk of total cardiovascular disease. It does not increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat that causes the heart to work inefficiently). Coffee drinking is associated with small increases in blood pressure, but appears to play a small role in the development of hypertension (high blood pressure). After several weeks of coffee consumption a small increase in blood pressure remains.

  • It reduces the risk of diabetes and incidence of depression, and might be protective in Alzheimer’s.

  • Caffeine also reduces deaths from all causes!

Super cool right? But remember, everything in life is a balance! Excessive amounts of coffee may have many negative effects on your body.

 

What are the negative effects of coffee?

As mentioned earlier, coffee can increase your LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and total cholesterol because of the cafestol present in coffee. This can be reduced by drinking filtered coffee rather than French press coffee.

 

Excessive coffee can cause or exacerbate anxiety and insomnia. Though coffee can Affect calcium loss from the kidney, there is no evidence that caffeine has any harmful effect on bone status or on the calcium in individuals who ingest the current recommended daily allowance of calcium. Caffeine can also acutely raise blood pressure in people who have never had coffee.

 

Have mixed feelings right now?

 

So what is the conclusion?

It seems that from the data we have so far, coffee within the limits stated above is good for us. There can be risks to drinking coffee if you’re pregnant, have anxiety or the other health concerns mentioned above. However, the evidence shows that for most of us, coffee is safe to drink!

Enjoy your morning Cuppa!!

References:

Caffeine and cardiovascular health.Regular toxicology and pharmacology july 26th 2017

Effects of caffeine on human health.food addit.contam-jan 1 2003

Caffeine and risk of atrial fibrillation or flutter: The Danish diet,cancer+health study march 1 2005

The John Hopkins Precursor study

Pubmed 12204390

Harvard school of public health

Mayo clinic-nutrition and healthy living

The impact of coffee on health.Maturitus,2013-01 vol 75.issue1

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