The once maligned beverage has emerged in recent years as a sort of health food, or rather drink. The public is taking notice as coffee consumption is on the rise. According to the National Coffee Association in 2017, 62 percent of Americans reported daily consumption, compared to 57 percent in 2016.
Coffee health buzz
This brew is a known stimulant due to its caffeine content. An average eight-ounce cup has about 95 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, with a range of 75 mg to 165 mg of caffeine, depending on the brew strength. The acute effects of coffee attributed to its caffeine content include increased alertness, mood improvement, temporary boost in metabolism, enhanced athletic performance, and reduced muscle fatigue.
Regular daily consumption of coffee is associated with a decreased risk of many chronic diseases. Last November, The BMJ published an extensive review of the scientific literature linking coffee consumption to multiple positive health outcomes. Chief among the findings were that daily coffee consumption seemed to lower risk of death from all causes. More specifically, the paper reported coffee decreased the risk of:
–Some cancers, including prostate, liver, oral, endometrial, skin cancer and leukemia
–Type 2 diabetes
–Gall stone disease
How much is enough
The BMJ study found that three to five cups a day was the range associated with positive health outcomes. This corresponds to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans definition of moderate coffee consumption as part of a healthy eating pattern.
The java jolt
By and large, moderate coffee intake is safe for healthy people, however some might need to limit intake. In The BMJ paper, high consumption of caffeinated (> 400 mg, about four cups) coffee was linked with a higher risk of fracture in women, but a lower risk in men. To that end, women at higher risk of fracture should probably limit caffeinated coffee to four cups a day. Pregnant women are advised to limit caffeine intake to 200 mg a day (about two cups), as higher amounts have been tied to risk of miscarriage, low birth-weight babies, and premature birth.
Some evidence shows that those with heart disease ought to limit caffeinated coffee to five cups a day to decrease risk of heart attack. Excess caffeine itself can cause one to feel jittery, agitated, and nauseous. Such adverse effects are more commonly experienced in persons who don’t consume caffeinated beverages consistently. Caffeine also can interfere with sleep if consumed late in the day.
(Reprinted with permission from Environmental Nutrition, a monthly publication of Belvoir Media Group, LLC. 800-829-5384. www.EnvironmentalNutrition.com.)
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Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.