True or false: Is coffee bad for you?
Should you really only have one cup a day? Let’s dive in.
Hello, my little diet culture haters! How are we doing this week? I’m doing well, thanks for asking. Oh, why, do you ask? Because I launched my podcast for paid subscribers this week! The podcast is called Bite Sized, where we’ll be having bite-sized discussions about the latest nutrition news every other week. I’m still very new to the podcasting game, so the audio is pretty raw, but I’m confident we can make it grow into something really great this year.
If you want to listen to episode one, well, you know what to do! Becoming a paid subscriber of Forkful is all it takes to listen to all the Bite Sized goodness.
So I’m excited to hop into a new “true or false” series where we dive into a particular myth that we tend to hear online all the time regarding a particular food item. It’s essentially a deep dive into that item’s nutritional benefit (and side effects) to your body, proving if what we are hearing constantly about this food online is true or false.
To start us off, this week we’re talking about coffee.
The debate all starts with caffeine.
I tend to find that the coffee conversation comes hand-in-hand with the caffeine conversation. Many health influencers online are banning all intake of caffeine because of the health benefits it can have on the body. But what are those benefits?
Research shows that drinking less caffeine can result in reduced feelings of anxiousness and improve the quality of your sleep. Caffeine has also been linked to higher blood pressure (given how it interacts with the nervous system), disrupts the digestive system (it’s a known laxative), and creates a bodily dependency similar to a drug: If you’ve ever experienced a headache when you’ve waited too long for your morning coffee, then you likely we’re experiencing a caffeine withdrawal.
So yeah, it’s not like the caffeine-free folks are wrong when they say it has negative effects on the body. If these are side effects that really bug them, then of course they should give it up! Again, it brings us back to the whole “do what works for your body” mantra I’ll keep saying again and again.
But here’s how it differs from another type of dependent substance like, say, alcohol: caffeine has not been linked to an onslaught of diseases.
Sure, we see some smaller short-term effects happen if you’re drinking caffeine in excess—like insomnia and increased anxiety. But there isn’t enough research to prove that caffeine consumption leads to any long-term health ramifications, such as chronic diseases. In fact, coffee has actually been proven to benefit the decreased risk of developing chronic disease.
Coffee truly is happy all in one cup.
I feel like Lorelai Gilmore would appreciate me writing that coffee, is in fact, healthy for you. So she can tell Luke Danes to stop giving her so much crap about it.
You see, there has been a lot of research regarding the health benefits of a cup of coffee—or two, or five. Moderate coffee drinking has been linked to a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and even depression, according to Harvard Health. And while some research attempts to link coffee drinking with some negative health outcomes like heart disease and asthma, the studies used participants that also smoked, which the side effects could have easily come from.
Coffee is actually full of polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant that can help to ward off diseases in the body. Drinking coffee has also been linked to improved gut health thanks to those polyphenols, and even has been linked to a longer life.
Plus, even if caffeine can have some adverse side effects for people, it actually is quite positive for the health of your brain. Caffeine not only increases your alertness during the day (hence why most people love to drink it, besides the delicious taste), but researchers actually found caffeine consumption to benefit long-term memory and protect the brain cells that produce dopamine—the feel-good hormone.
Not to mention that coffee can actually be hydrating. Yes, there has been a lot of debate about whether coffee can be dehydrating or not. Coffee is a diuretic, meaning it increases the production of urine. But medical experts actually say that the effects are too mild to make a difference and, because coffee is made of water, it’s actually a great way to reach those fluid intake goals of yours. Cheers to that.
How much coffee can you have in a day? Hint: It’s more than you think.
When someone tells me they really need to cut down to just one cup of coffee a day, I always question their reasoning.
If it has to do with trying to reduce added sugar intake or not drinking caffeine so close before going to sleep, okay, then that makes sense.
But if the reasoning is simply because they think they need to stop because some health influencer is telling them that drinking that much caffeine is bad, well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s just a good ol’ myth.
You see, we’re actually allowed to have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. Given that the average 8-ounce cup of coffee has around 100 grams of caffeine, that means you can have up to four cups (28 ounces) of coffee a day. That’s a lot more than you thought you could have, isn’t it?
And if you think about it, that’s a whole lot more decaf coffee (around 2 to 15 milligrams of caffeine) and tea (around 30 to 50 milligrams, depending on the type) you can have in a day.
So yes, go absolutely nuts and enjoy your coffee Lorelai Gilmore style: With your oxygen.
Because some of you have been asking about leading my latest work, here’s a roundup of some of the articles I’ve worked on lately. Enjoy!
We’re Obsessed with Air Fried Grapes and You Should Be Too (Taste of Home)
10 Surprising Things We Learned from Prince Harry’s Book, “Spare” (Reader’s Digest)