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Is Coffee Bad for Our Health?

Submitted By Molly McKendry

Edited By Marcia Bristow MS RDN CSSD CD

There is nothing quite like waking up on a cold Vermont morning to the smell of fresh coffee brewing. A part from its stimulating aroma, the caffeine in coffee provides us with the mental and physical boost we need to get through the day. Current research now suggests there may be benefits to coffee drinking related to health. One study found that coffee drinkers may have a 30% lower risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease compared to those who don’t drink it.1 Parkinson’s Disease is characterized by a gradual decrease of cells in the brain that help control muscle movement, and caffeine may help prevent the loss of these cells. Another study that looked at the relationship between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes discovered that individuals who increased their coffee consumption by more than one cup per day for four years had a 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.2

What defines “moderate” coffee drinking? The 2015 American Dietary Guidelines state that moderate coffee consumption is equal to three to five cups per day, or 400 mg of caffeine or less.To put this in perspective one typical eight oz cup of brewed black coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine, while instant has 27-173 mg.4

While there are several possible benefits to regular coffee drinking, scientists are also investigating whether caffeine could be harmful. One concern is whether or not drinking coffee consistently can raise blood pressure over time. Although coffee can raise blood pressure briefly, there is no evidence to suggest caffeine alone leads to sustained high blood pressure.3 Recent guidelines suggest there may actually be a protective effect of regular coffee drinking that lowers the risks of cardiovascular disease in adults.3

 

If you are concerned about your quality of sleep you may want to cut back on your caffeine consumption. Everyone metabolizes caffeine at different rates, so even a cup drank early in the day may still be in your system around bedtime1. Despite it’s other benefits, it is important to be mindful of how much coffee you are drinking and when in order to figure out what works best for your body.

References

  1. Schardt D. Caffeine. Nutr Action. 2012:7-9. https://www.cspinet.org/nah/articles/caffeine.html. Accessed December 8, 2015.
  2. Increasing daily coffee consumption may reduce type 2 diabetes risk. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health website. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/increasing-daily-coffee-intake-may-reduce-type-2-diabetes-risk/. Accessed March 27, 2016.
  3. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion website. http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/. Accessed February 23, 2016.
  4.  Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. Mayo Clinic website. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372. Accessed February 23, 2016.

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