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Caffeine or No Caffeine

Caffeine, or no Caffeine

Brittany Kelley RD, LDN

For anyone that participated in Black Friday shopping last week, I can bet you needed some type of caffeinated beverage to help keep you moving from store to store. Or maybe you indulge in a cup of coffee on the way to work every morning. Whatever the situation may be, caffeine is bound to show up in our lives from time to time. Some of us may begin to question whether drinking beverages that contain caffeine is considered bad.  There is a lot of mixed information out there about the pros and cons of caffeinated beverages like coffee and herbal tea, but from a Dietitian’s standpoint the benefits of these drinks far outway the cons.

Coffee is a natural stimulant that many of us enjoy as part of our morning routine, or maybe as an after dinner pick me up. There are various types of blends and flavors to coffees that makes drinking this warm beverage far more than a simple morning ritual. Coffee can be mixed with just about anything. I once had a patient in a hospital who mixed his with pancakes, bacon, maple syrup and just about anything he could find. Now this was most definitely on the more extreme side of things but still proves that coffee pairs well with many foods. In addition to its unique flavor, coffee helps us to wake up due to its caffeine content. Caffeine from coffee has been shown to have both negative and positive health benefits. In some cases caffeinated coffee has been shown to cause elevated blood pressure, impair sleep, or even cause stunted growth in children. However, this claim does not just correlate with just coffee specifically, but rather any caffeinated food or drink.

So why should we shame coffee and think of it as bad? The coffee alone is not the culprit in the healthy or not battle. It is when it is mixed with ingredients such as: heavy creams, high sugar syrups, multiple packets of sugar or artificial sweeteners that the coffee itself begins to lose its nutritional value. In fact, according to a Harvard Medical article The Latest Scoop on the Health Benefits of Coffee, “studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke), type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, uterine and liver cancer, cirrhosis, and gout[1].” Although there is no current dietary recommendation encouraging one to drink coffee, it has not been shown to cause harm to our health. Likewise, for those that are everyday coffee drinkers it is always best to moderate the amount like anything else we consume on a daily basis.

[1] Harvard Health Publishing. The Latest Scoop on the Health Benefits of Coffee. 9. 25, 2017, 10:36 AM. Robert H. Shmerling, MD


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