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Coffee & Caffeine

If you’re like most people, you probably start your day with a cup of coffee. But have you ever considered the health benefits of caffeine in coffee?

Here’s what you need to know about the favorite morning beverage.

Caffeine is a natural ingredient in coffee beans.
Decaffeinated coffee involves washing the beans with a solvent (such as methylene chloride or ethyl acetate) for extracting caffeine from coffee beans.

Espresso is stronger than plain black coffee and made by forcing steam through ground coffee beans. Espresso is also thicker than plain black coffee and is the base for a variety of other coffee drinks. 
Doppio is double the amount of a single shot espresso.
Americano is one shot of espresso with a cup of hot water, also known as a diluted espresso.
Cappuccino: One shot of espresso with equal parts of steamed milk and milk foam.
Caffe latte: One shot of espresso with three parts steamed milk.
Macchiato: One shot of espresso with foam milk, often combined with multiple other flavors, such as caramel and vanilla.
Flat white: Equal parts espresso and steamed milk.
Cafe mocha: Chocolate syrup and whipped cream added to a caffe latte or a cappuccino.
Irish coffee: One shot of espresso with a dash of whiskey.
Iced coffee: Coffee is prepared black or with milk and then poured over ice. It can also be made with milk foam or whipped cream. Sometimes iced coffee is cold-brewed, meaning coffee beans are brewed in cold or room temperature water for 12 to 24 hours.
Bottled coffee: Iced coffee served in a bottle.

How Much Caffeine Is in Coffee, and What Else Is in Your Cup?

Dark roast coffee has a stronger flavor, but light roast coffee has more caffeine.

Given the many variations of coffee, different types have different nutritional profiles. As far as regular, plain coffee goes, here’s what you can expect from 1 cup (240ml).

Protein: 0.3 g
Riboflavin: 0.2 mg
Niacin: 0.5 mg
Folate: 4.7 mcg
Calcium: 7 mg
Magnesium: 1 mg
Potassium: 160 mg
Manganese: 0.1 mg
Caffeine: 94.8 mg
Water: 236 g

What Are the Possible Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee?

Coffee is more than a great-tasting beverage! It also boasts several health benefits, including the following:

Energy Booster
Because a single cup of regular coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine, it can help you feel less tired and increase your energy level. A study found that it may also have cognitive benefits, improving memory and mood. Within about 15 to 30 minutes of having your morning cup of coffee, your central nervous system becomes stimulated and will stay stimulated for up to six hours.

Increases Fat Burn
If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, coffee may give your body a metabolic boost. In one study, 100 mg of caffeine was found to increase the resting metabolic rate of volunteers by 3 to 4 percent. Another study supported these findings and found that metabolic rates increased almost immediately after coffee consumption and remained elevated for up to three hours.

Reduces Risk of Diabetes
Along with the regular physical activity and watching your diet, coffee may also reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. One review and meta-analysis looked at data from 18 different studies and found a strong connection between coffee consumption and a lower risk of diabetes.

Protects Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
These include a variety of disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and spinal muscular atrophy. These diseases are often incurable and debilitating, but some studies suggest coffee may help protect the brain and lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases. One observational study found that caffeine intake was associated with a “significantly lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.” Another study found that “higher coffee and caffeine intakes resulted in significantly lower incidences of Parkinson’s disease.” Just bear in mind that most of the research on brain disease and coffee show a link, not a causal effect, so more study is needed.

Lowers Risk of Cancer
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, there is evidence that regular consumption of coffee does not increase the risk for cancer. In fact, regular coffee drinking may lower the risk for some types of cancer, such as colon cancer, liver cancer & skin cancer.

Protects Liver
Coffee may also help protect the liver. The findings in one study led researchers to believe there’s an ingredient in coffee that may help lower the risk of cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver. Another study found that people who drank 2 cups of coffee per day had a 43 percent lower risk of liver cancer.

May Protect the Heart
Studies investigating the association between caffeine, coffee, and heart disease have produced conflicting results, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). But although it’s clear that caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, releases free fatty acids from fatty tissue, and increases urination, it remains unclear if it helps protect your heart. The AHA notes, however, that having up to two cups of coffee daily doesn’t appear to be harmful.

What Are the Potential Health Risks of Drinking Coffee?

Although coffee has its benefits, the caffeine in coffee can have side effects.

According to the Mayo Clinic, 400 mg of caffeine per day is a safe amount for most healthy adults. This is the equivalent of about 4 cups of regular coffee. Drinking more than this amount per day could cause a variety of side effects, such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Frequent urination
  • Headaches
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Upset stomach
  • Muscle tremors

People who are sensitive to coffee should reduce the amount they drink and adolescents between ages 12 and 18 should limit their caffeine intake to 100 mg per day (or 1 cup of coffee).

One cup of plain black coffee without sugar and cream has only about 5 calories. Keep in mind that loading up on sugar, artificial sweeteners, and cream can be bad for your health.

It’s also important to limit regular coffee if you’re pregnant because caffeine can cross into the placenta. Some researchers believe consuming too much caffeine during pregnancy may increase the risk for miscarriages, premature birth, and birth defects, although more studies are needed. Pregnant women should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day, about two 240ml cups of coffee.

Does Coffee Increase the risk for Hypertension?

Caffeine in coffee can cause a slight increase in blood pressure. However, this increase is usually temporary and doesn’t increase the risk for hypertension. The exception is if you consume too much caffeine and take medication containing ephedrine. Together, there’s an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and seizures.

Is Coffee Addictive?

Caffeine is a stimulant drug. Drinking as little as 100 mg of caffeine a day (one cup of regular coffee) may lead to a mild dependency and cause withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can occur after one or two days without coffee and may include headaches, sleepiness, irritability, constipation, depression, muscle stiffness, and insomnia.

Coffee vs. Tea: Which Is Better for You?

Coffee isn’t the only cold or hot caffeinated beverage — you also have the choice of tea.

You might ask, is one better than the other?

Some people feel tea is a healthier alternative to coffee. But the truth is, both drinks offer a wealth of possible health benefits.

For example, tea is loaded with antioxidants to help prevent cell damage and may reduce the risk of cancers like breast cancer and colon cancer. And, like coffee, green tea may also reduce insulin resistance and lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you compare only the caffeine in tea with the caffeine in coffee, tea could be considered a healthier option. Whereas 1 cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine, 1 cup of tea has only 25 to 48 mg of caffeine.

Switching from coffee to tea is one way to limit your daily intake of caffeine if you’re experiencing unpleasant side effects such as insomnia, headaches, or restlessness.

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