Moderate Coffee Intake Is Safe
There's no doubt that a glass of nutrient-packed orange juice is a good way to start the day. But what about the most beloved of breakfast beverages? Coffee and its impact on health have been debated for years. Some studies show coffee drinking may protect against deadly colon cancer and gallstones, while other research has linked coffee and caffeine intake to a variety of ailments from heart disease to osteoporosis. Part of the research confusion is a result of the many different compounds found in coffee and different coffee brewing methods.
Caffeine– coffee's most maligned and coveted ingredient – is a potent stimulant also found in tea, cocoa, and chocolate, and as an additive in some soft drinks and medications. The perks of caffeine are enhanced mental alertness and physical endurance. In fact, many athletes use caffeine as a performance-enhancing substance. Too much caffeine, however, can lead to irritability, nervousness, insomnia and stomach irritation. For healthy adults, most researchers agree that a moderate caffeine intake of up to 300 milligrams (about 24 ounces of regular coffee) a day is safe.
Cut Back for Heart Health and Strong Bones
Caffeine can raise blood pressure and may elevate levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood which increases the risk of heart disease. Other substances found in the oils in ground coffee can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. These substances are removed in instant or filtered drip coffee, but boiled coffee (Turkish style), French press and espresso contain them in high amounts. For individuals with high blood pressure, heart disease or high cholesterol, decaf filtered or instant coffee is the best bet.
Excess caffeine may also be hard on your bones. The more caffeine consumed, the more calcium is lost through the urine, leading to a greater chance of developing osteoporosis. To protect bones, stick to the 300 milligram daily caffeine cap, add plenty of milk to coffee and make sure overall calcium intake is adequate.
A caution for anyone cutting back on coffee or making the switch to decaf – go slow. Gradually reducing caffeine intake can prevent the severe headaches associated with caffeine withdrawal. Look beyond your morning mug of joe for caffeine contributors – you may be getting more of a kick than you think.