I often get asked about coffee – is it really bad for us or ok, how much, what type…? The reason there is no clear response on coffee is that there are both positive and negative side effects!
If you are consuming a lot of caffeine (around 500mg a day) or if you regularly experience anxiety, restlessness or headaches it may be a moment to look at your coffee habit. Bear in mind that an average espresso is about 80mg of caffeine, a larger coffee (contrary to popular belief) has more caffeine in it as more water has passed through the grains to take the caffeine with it (around 95-200mg depending on size). Other factors also play a role including level of roasting and whether beans are coarsely or finely ground. Oh yes… and adding sugar and milk does not reduce the caffeine!
So what are the perks?
Caffeine helps to stimulate alertness, can improve mood and concentration and even performance (some athletes have a coffee before a run). It has been shown to help reduce Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and also contains some antioxidants (basically stops us rusting from the inside!)
Great… lets have a cup then!
But, you also need to know that caffeine has its problems:
Caffeine raises blood pressure and stress levels (stress hormones including cortisol) in the body and can also exacerbate gastro-intestinal problems (abdominal pain, diarrhea). For women it can also increase PMS, osteoporosis and a series of other issues. It also raises blood sugar in the body (even more if you add sugar!)
So what’s the bottom line?
Pretty much like most other things we know we need to keep in moderation:
Good to know:
- not too much (keep well under 500mg per day – better around 200mg)
- the best quality you can… better one good one than 4 office filter coffees!
- avoid coffee on an empty stomach… after breakfast or after lunch are the best times
- reduce or cut out sugar in it (try a small piece of dark chocolate at first to see if that helps)
- when you have one… really enjoy it!