Is Coffee Bad For You?
Ahh, coffee! As I sit here writing this with my essential morning coffee in hand, it’s hard to imagine getting through a working day without a coffee… or two. But is it bad for you?
There was a time when coffee was lumped together with other established offenders like junk food and cigarettes. However, science was unclear about whether it was detrimental and many people either avoided it completely or consumed it with feelings of guilt because they perceived it as a vice or indulgence.
On the other hand, the latest research shows that it is not bad for you at all, in fact, it may even have some health benefits when properly consumed.
Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Increases Brain Function:
Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks the function of adenosine, a neurotransmitter in our brain, which then increases brain activity and increases other neurotransmitters such as dopamine and norepinephrine which make us feel more awake and alert, fighting off fatigue. Just what we need when it comes to the 3 pm slump at work!
May Protect Against Certain Diseases:
Coffee has now been shown to have an association with the prevention of certain diseases and conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, Type Two Diabetes, and even Liver Disease. However, it should be noted that even though the research is strong, it is still emerging, so we shouldn’t take this as a sign to start guzzling down buckets of coffee every day. Therefore, we should still drink it in moderation.
Other Beneficial Compounds:
Firstly, caffeine is not the only positive component of coffee. Coffee also contains antioxidants and diterpenes. Furthermore, antioxidants are amazing at reducing free radicals—and, in turn, oxidative stress. Therefore, when you keep oxidative stress in check, your inflammation response is less likely to trigger. However, it’s important to get a wide range of antioxidants in your diet for the best results. Therefore, make sure to supplement your coffee with plenty of berries, veggies, spices, nuts, seeds, and chocolate.
Downsides of Coffee
Coffee After 5 pm:
I can put my hands up and say I am guilty of reaching for a cup of coffee in the afternoon. It is recommended that you stop drinking coffee 8 hours before your bedtime. Most importantly, caffeine is not an alternative to good quality sleep, so don’t neglect getting a good night of quality shut-eye. Caffeine’s primary effect is that it makes it harder to fall asleep initially. In addition, caffeine can also reduce your total sleep time by interrupting your sleep throughout the night. In short, there is strong evidence that the more caffeine you drink and the later in the day you drink it, the more likely you are to get a bad night’s sleep.
Caffeine and Anxiety:
Sadly many people today suffer from anxiety and caffeine may actually make it worse. For instance, too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, heart palpitations and can even worsen panic attacks, and as everyone’s sensitivity to caffeine is different. Therefore, it may be useful to cut down on coffee if you are experiencing any of these side effects. On the other hand, if you drink coffee for the social aspect of it, just opt for a decaf coffee instead or better yet a herbal tea.
“Can I have a Venti Caramel Macchiato with Extra syrup and Whipped Cream please?”
Unfortunately, due to clever marketing by coffee stores, we are often persuaded to buy a Venti Caramel Macchiato with extra syrup and whipped cream when really, to see the benefits of coffee we should be sticking to our Americanos. For example, some coffee drinks can contain north of 400 calories, due to all the added cream, sugar and syrups. Likewise, if you make your own coffee at home or in the office, you still may not be safe! If you were to have two coffees a day, with 2 teaspoons of sugar and a good drop of milk, you would be adding up to an extra 124 calories to your diet a day, which adds up to a whopping 45,260 calories a year! In conclusion, we should aim to stick to black coffee or coffee with a small dash of milk or dairy-free milk.
To sum up, even though moderate amounts of coffee are good for you, drinking way too much of it can still be harmful.
Therefore, if you want to ensure the potential health benefits of coffee, avoid adding sugar. And if drinking coffee tends to affect your sleep, don’t drink it after 5pm in the afternoon.
But in the end, one thing holds true: Moderation is key. But sipping coffee in reasonable amounts just might be one of the healthiest things you can do.
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Business Development Manager
Annie is our Business Development Manager here at GourmetFuel. Annie completed her Bachelor’s degree in Food Innovation at the Technology University of Dublin. Before joining the team at GourmetFuel, she worked for a successful start-up company based in New York City where she gained valuable experience in product development, food safety, and allergen management and control. Her areas of interest are food business sustainability, health promotion, and nutrition research.
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