COFFEE - THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Are you a coffee lover? Did you know that the average Australian drinks 9.2 cups of coffee per week on average! No surprises here but people with children consume even more coffee on average, compared with those people who don’t have kids. Drinking coffee is a part of the Australians lifestyle but are we harming or helping our health with our ritualistic 9 cuppas a week?

health benefits of coffee

  • Coffee is a dominant source of antioxidants in a typical Western diet, even more so than that obtained from daily fruits and veggies.
  • Caffeine in coffee could cause a short boost in energy level, exercise performance, metabolic rate and brain function.
  • Some studies showed that coffee could reduce the risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson disease in old age .
  • Coffee also significantly lowers risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. The more you drink, the lower the risk.
  • Drinking coffee is linked with a reduced chance depression and suicide.

Bad sides of coffee

  • Excessive caffeine intake can lead to jitteriness, anxiety, irregular heartbeats and panic attacks.
  • It lowers the quality of your sleep if you consume excessive caffeine late in the day.
  • People can be easily addicted to caffeine if they consume caffeine regularly. Drinking too much coffee daily can lead to developing a tolerance and those people can suffer withdrawal symptoms such as headache, tiredness and irritability if they miss their regular cuppa.
  • Caffeine has a slight diuretic effect (meaning it makes us go to the toilet a lot) and increase blood pressure by 1-2 mm/Hg for regular coffee drinkers.

Recommendation

Even thought there are many benefits for coffee, it is better to control your daily coffee intake to 140-210 mg – this dose of caffeine daily poses no significant health implications. If you are pregnant, please limit your caffeine intake to 70mg daily as caffeine does cross the placenta in the womb.

Here is caffeine content in some common caffeinated beverages:

Coffee type                 Amount of caffeine
Instant coffee             60 – 80 mg / cup
Plunger coffee           190 mg / cup
Percolated Coffee    60 – 120 mg / cup
Espresso                       194 mg / shot

Final tips on drinking coffee:

  1. Choose a quality brand.
  2. Don’t drink coffee after 2 pm.
  3. Don’t load your coffee with sugars and cream.
  4. Add some cinnamon or cocoa in your coffee.
  5. Drinking decaffeinated coffee could help you to reduce your caffeine intake daily, but some health benefits would be lost compared with regular coffee.

This article was kindly co-written by Ka Ho Brian Tang – A student dietitian at The University of Sydney.