Should You or Shouldn't You?
cup of coffee in the morning, the flavor, the aroma! And the
next cup and the next and the next . . . Is all that coffee good for you?
Caffeine, one of many substances found in coffee,
is the major ingredient of concern. Caffeine is also found in
cola, tea, chocolate, cocoa, and in several brands of sodas and
fruit drinks. After many years of research to determine if caffeine
is harmful to your health, results continue to be negative in
some studies and vague in others.
between coffee, coronary
(CAD), and ischemic
called transient ischemic attack or TIA) remains unclear. Heavy
coffee drinking, more than eight cups a day, has shown a positive
correlation to ischemic heart disease, however, many heavy coffee
drinkers also tend to be heavy smokers, as was the case in these
studies. Other risk factors related to lifestyle like excessive
consumption of alcohol, poor diet, stress, and lack of exercise
were also present. Elevated blood triglyceride levels has been
found in Europeans who consume boiled coffee, but has not been
found in the U.S. where mostly filtered coffee is used.
If you have elevated blood cholesterol
levels, it may be helpful to
decrease your intake of coffee to three cups a day. Coffee causes
a slight increase in total cholesterol, 10 mg/dl, with eight
cups or more and an increase in LDL levels, the bad cholesterol.
Will it help to switch to decaffeinated coffee? Sorry, the decaf version also causes
an increase in serum cholesterol. This tells us there must be
another chemical in coffee, other than caffeine, that's producing
these results. If you have normal
cholesterol levels, there's no need to restrict coffee intake.
Many years of studies clearly demonstrate that coffee does not
cause cancer. The exception is among obese coffee-drinking women
who may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer, but
women of normal weight do not. Because we know that obesity itself
increases the risk of breast cancer, it's not clear if the combination
of coffee plus obesity may be a contributing factor. Interestingly,
some studies have shown that caffeine may help prevent colon
contribute to osteoporosis and loss of bone mass.
The daily recommended amount of calcium is 800 mg. for pre-menopausal
women and 1500 mg. for post-menopausal women. Studies show that
women who drink coffee maintain normal bone density with an intake
of 800 mg. of calcium a day, although loss of bone does occur
when intake of calcium is less than 400 mg. a day. So, it appears
that coffee consumption does not contribute to osteoporosis as long as
you're getting adequate calcium in your diet.
exists, although questionable, that women who drink coffee heavily
might have difficulty conceiving. If you're pregnant or breast feeding, coffee should not be consumed because
caffeine is passed along through the placenta to the fetus and
in breast milk to the infant.
It appears that when regular coffee drinkers decrease or eliminate
completely their daily dose of coffee, they experience unpleasant
withdrawal symptoms, such as headache, insomnia, mood swings,
and nausea. If you've accidentally done your own unscientific
study in the office, like I did one morning by making decaffeinated
coffee in the regular coffee pot, you found that withdrawal symptoms
don't take long to overcome your coworkers. I decided that withdrawal symptoms may
be more dangerous than continuing to drink coffee!
So what does
all this mean? Should
you or shouldn't you drink coffee?
If you enjoy
drinking coffee, there probably isn't much reason to stop unless
you've been advised to do so by your doctor, or you're overly
sensitive to caffeine and experience unpleasant symptoms like
heart palpitations, nervousness, and sleeplessness. It's recommended,
however, that if you drink more than eight cups of coffee a day,
to cut this in half since some studies showed harmful effects
only with heavy coffee intake. Below is a list of some common
foods with caffeine content:
12 fl oz
Milk, 8 oz
-Have you noticed as you
get older, caffeine seems to bother you more? The reason is due
to the body's decreased ability with age to dispose of caffeine.
-How much caffeine does it
take to feel the effects? About 200 mgs. but varies with each
-Do you have an allergy to
coffee? An allergic reaction could be caused by a bacteria called
Aspergillus that grows on the coffee bean. During the processing
of the bean, the bacteria is not completely washed off.
Where do you get your nutrition
information? Most states now have licensure laws for Dietitians
and Nutritionists. Be sure your nutrition advisor is "Licensed"
by the State as a Licensed Dietitian (LD) or Licensed Nutritionist
(LN), or in states that don't have licensure laws, a Registered
Barbara Herondorf, L.D.
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