Coffee is a classic superfood. A superfood is a food or drink with health benefits beyond normal dietary sources. Superfoods tend to be high in antioxidants, especially polyphenols that are plant compounds with health promoting and disease preventive properties. Coffee contains hundreds of natural compounds. Chlorogenic acid is a polyphenol in coffee that some researchers believe can help you live longer.
The 21st-century buzz is this 5,000-year-old energy drink stimulates and heals. But is coffee good or is it bad for your health? The real answer is complex.
No doubt about it, coffee is a super food. It stimulates and nourishes. Natural coffee beans contain over 1,000 aromatic compounds.
Coffee is especially rich in phenolic compounds. The most abundant of coffee’s health-promoting phenolics is chlorogenic acid, which accounts for 12 percent of the weight of dry green coffee beans. Other coffee acids include aliphatic and quinic acids.
Coffee’s reputation as an acidic food comes from the idea that these phenolic acids tip the body’s pH balance.
Coffee beans also contain oils, plus some peptides and free amino acids, and alkaloids like trigonelline that researchers found slows down the spread of invasive cancers. Trigonelline may help manage diabetes and has weight loss benefits. It also prevents the bacteria Streptococcus mutans from adhering to tooth enamel, one of the principal causes of dental decay. During roasting, trigonelline converts to niacin, vitamin B3. A single cup of coffee can contain between 10-40 milligrams of niacin.
What Is the Optimal Daily Dose of Caffeine?
One cup of fresh-brewed coffee contains between 100 to 130 milligrams or more of caffeine. A Starbucks coffee has up to 300 milligrams of caffeine. Some types of coffee preparations have less caffeine than others. An espresso has much less, about 65 milligrams.
Even decaf has some caffeine. Decaf is required to be 97.5% caffeine free to be considered decaffeinated, but the amount varies a lot. On average, you get between 5 to 30 milligrams of caffeine per cup of decaf.
There’s no consensus about the optimal amount of caffeine needed to get the health benefits without risks. A regular-sized cup of brewed coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine. Three cups per day is the average caffeine consumption in the U.S., which is about 300 mg. Health experts suggest that 400 mg is the maximum dose per day. Pushing your caffeine consumption past 500 mg can cause rapid heart rate, tremors, and insomnia. Ten times that amount – 5,000 mg – is considered toxic and potentially lethal.
Research evidence suggests that 250 milligrams of caffeine daily creates no health risks. A reasonable goal aims for high-quality coffee in moderate amounts consistently during the day, not quantity. When you abuse caffeine, bad things can happen.
A good rule is to consume caffeine the ways it’s drunk in traditional coffee cultures. Cubans drink a lot of coffee, but in tiny cups and throughout the day. Middle Eastern cultures drink coffee in the same way: small cups of intense flavored and highly aromatic coffee.
Is the Caffeine in Energy Drinks Different from Coffee?
Americans, never satisfied with just a little wake-up, have gone crazy with caffeine. Turbocharged caffeinated energy drinks are taking a toll on our health. At least 13 deaths from sudden heart failure are associated with popular energy boosting products, and emergency room visits related to energy drinks skyrocketed by 15 times since 2005.
The amount of caffeine in energy shots and caffeinated colas varies a lot. A can of Coca-Cola has about 35 mg. Dr. Pepper delivers 41 mg. Caffeine-laden colas also come with a lot of sugar, except for the ones with artificial sweeteners, which carry other health risks.
Energy shots pack more caffeine than colas. 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength has no sugar but provides 200 milligrams of caffeine in 2 fluid ounces. Rockstar double strength packs 80 milligrams. Red Bull has 83 milligrams. Monster Energy tops the pack with 86 milligrams per can.
The caffeine in energy drinks and colas is manufactured from urea, a nitrogen-rich chemical. The caffeine in coffee is created in the plant under the sun while growing on a tree. The main difference between natural and synthetic caffeine is that natural caffeine as found in coffee and tea come with a bundle of other healthy compounds that you won’t find in energy shots.
Does Drinking Coffee Make Your Body Acidic?
Some worry that coffee is too acidic. But is it?
The average pH of brewed coffee is about 5, which is slightly acidic. But, coffee is less acidic than a glass of orange juice with a pH of 3.3-4.2. Coffee can sometimes upset your stomach, but this is not due to its acids, many of which are healthy for you. Other compounds found in coffee may be the cause of indigestion.
What Are the Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee?
New research shows that freshly made coffee from whole beans can lower your risk for cancer, heart disease, lower blood pressure, and prevent diabetes, and even help weight loss. Scientists are finding that it’s two powerful antioxidants, and both are acids, that provide coffee’s health benefits.
Chlorogenic and caffeic acids are antioxidants that help beat cancer and prevent other degenerative diseases. Researchers found that women who drink coffee have a lower risk of developing estrogen receptor-related breast cancer. A 2017 study found that drinking more than three espressos a day reduced prostate cancer by 53 percent. Italian men, the subjects in the study, drink on average 600 cups of coffee every year.
Compounds in coffee may also shield the liver from cancer-causing chemicals. A Japanese study that included 240,000 people, found that those who drank several cups of coffee every day had fifty percent less chance of developing liver cancer.
20 Proven Benefits of Coffee:
- Helps prevent stroke by improving blood flow in the brain.
- May reduce blood pressure.
- Improves antioxidant capacity.
- Improves nitric oxide levels.
- Protects against developing type II diabetes.
- Reduces risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.
- Helps improve movement symptoms in people with Parkinson’s.
- Lowers the risk of liver cancer.
- Protects against heart failure.
- Reduces pain intensity.
- Promotes weight loss.
- Improves mood and guards against depression.
- Protects against developing Alzheimer’s disease.
- Helps jolt your workouts.
- Lowers risk for developing Multiple Sclerosis.
- Lowers risk for prostate and bladder cancer.
- Lowers risk for endometrial cancer.
- Lowers risk for breast cancer.
- Slows cognitive decline.
- Protects against DNA damage.
Longevity Benefits of Coffee
Chlorogenic acid and other polyphenols in coffee lower the risk for disease associated with aging. Large observational studies found that lifelong coffee drinking significantly reduces the risk for having a heart attack or stroke. Coffee drinking helps prevent diabetes, a primary cause of accelerated aging.
A 2017 study in Annals of Internal Medicine found that coffee drinkers outlived those who abstained. Because the longevity benefits lie in the polyphenols, decaf worked equally as well as. To get longevity benefits, researchers found that six cups of coffee per day was the average among participants.
What Are the Risks of Coffee Drinking?
There is great chemistry in every cup of natural organic coffee, but there are also risks of drinking too much.
Coffee is a mild diuretic and may cause frequent urination, but not everyone has this annoying effect. In fact, current research does not consider coffee dehydrating.
Too much caffeine may aggravate symptoms of an enlarged prostate gland. However, new research found that it might be good for prostate health. A Harvard School of Public Health study found that men with lower risk for prostate cancer drank a lot of coffee.
Caffeine can trigger headaches, but also can have the opposite effect. Migraine sufferers know that a strong cup of coffee can sometimes halt an attack. Experts do not believe that coffee directly causes headaches. Caffeine mitigates pain. Commercial preparations with aspirin or acetaminophen and other pain drugs add caffeine for quick action pain relief. However, some people who are sensitive to caffeine report that coffee triggers headaches. Caffeine sensitive individuals should not take pain relievers that have added caffeine in them.
Doctors used to believe that coffee caused high blood pressure. Research based on caffeine-laden Colas found that blood pressure went up, so it was assumed that coffee would also spike blood pressure. According to a European study, caffeinated energy shots significantly raise blood pressure. And, newer research shows that coffee may help lower blood pressure. It seems that reasonable amounts of coffee drinking do not cause a spike in blood pressure. However, in some individuals who are caffeine sensitive blood pressures could rise.
You can cruise all day with a little caffeine but drinking coffee in the afternoon and evening disrupts your body clock. It takes six hours for your body to eliminate caffeine. Drinking more than 500 milligrams of caffeine or drinking coffee in the evening causes insomnia for most people.
Do Benefits Outweigh Risks?
All the good news does not mean that you should power up to four, or even six or more cups of coffee a day. Instead, consider coffee as a healing medicine and super food. Like green tea or pomegranate juice, coffee is best drunk in small doses every day over extended periods of time.
Coffee is integral to the American lifestyle. We are a fast-paced, high-powered, stressed-out nation of over-achievers, and many would like to keep it that way.
Coffee is not just a morning wake up drink; it’s one of Nature’s health miracles. Enjoy, but consume responsibly. Find your personal caffeine balance.