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Aahhh…that first cup in the morning. The aroma, the comfort—what’s better than settling in with a cup of coffee to wake up and greet the day?

Not much, in our house. Our coffee maker is on a timer, so that first heavenly cup is ready when we are. And those few nights when I forget to get the coffee ready for the next morning?? It’s a rude awakening when I stumble into the kitchen in the a.m., looking for that fine brew…

How much do we coffee lovers love coffee??

A lot—and there are plenty of us—and we’ve been enjoying it for more than 500 years. According to the National Coffee Association, more than 61% of all US adults drink coffee every day[i]. In fact, at the global level, coffee is the second most-consumed beverage in many nations, coming in only behind water.[ii]

In fact, coffee lovers love coffee so much, that:[iii]

  • 31% of coffee drinkers brew coffee in the morning before any other morning behavior
  • 55% would rather gain 10 pounds than give up coffee
  • 52% would rather go without a morning shower than give up coffee (thank heavens for remote working…)
  • 49% would rather give up their cell phones for a month before giving up coffee

Yup—that’s right—I told you we loved it a lot!! 😊

Drink up-—but not too much—

It’s not surprising, then, that coffee has been a heavily researched diet component in recent years. The findings? While it’s not all good news, there’s a lot of good news for coffee lovers. Health experts may not consider coffee to be medicinal just yet, but studies have uncovered a number of health benefits, coupled with no adverse effects when people drink it in moderation—typically defined as three-to-five cups a day.

That’s 8-ounce cups, all you 20-ounce mug drinkers…

A three-to-five 8-ounce cup level of consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of diseases and conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes), and heart arrhythmia
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Uterine and liver cancer,[iv] breast and prostate cancer, oral, pharyngeal, colon, and endometrial cancer, and melanoma[v]
  • Multiple sclerosis (four-to-six cups a day)[vi]
  • Gout[vii]

One body of research showed[viii] that drinking six-or-more cups a day could significantly lower the risk for type 2 diabetes, but even less could be beneficial. Another review of 18 studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that each cup of coffee consumed was linked to a 7% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The antioxidant, chlorogenic acid—one of the main antioxidants found in coffee—is thought to reduce the absorption of glucose from sugary or high-carbohydrate food, slowing the release of sugar into the bloodstream, as well as perhaps preventing insulin resistance.[ix]

More good news…

Not only does coffee reduce the risk of so many diseases and conditions, it has also been found to support and promote certain aspects of health. For example:[x]

  • Coffee beans have powerful antioxidant properties, particularly dark-roasted coffee. In fact, coffee actually increases the amount of antioxidants in blood. Two of coffee’s key antioxidants, chlorogenic acid and caffeic acid, are responsible for many of its health benefits. Both of them help protect cells from damage and oxidative stress. Coffee beans also contain phenolic acid, a type of polyphenol, which is an antioxidant found to have cancer-fighting and anti-depressant properties.[xi]
  • Your arteries will likely be cleaner. The medical journal, Heart, published a study that was conducted on 25,000 people who drank three-to-five cups regularly. The results? The coffee drinkers were less likely to have calcium deposits in their arteries than those who drank either none or more than the controlled amount.[xii]  
  • It has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, helping to support cognitive function. Coffee and caffeine have been studied extensively as natural treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurological conditions.[xiii] Drinking coffee is linked to the production of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline, and triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor—turning brain stem cells into new neurons.[xiv]
  • It boosts fat burning and metabolism, enhancing weight loss. A study in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism reported that caffeine was able to advance metabolism by an average of 7% within three hours after consumption.[xv]
  • Drinking coffee increases circulation and can stimulate the liver. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that higher coffee consumption was associated with lower rates of liver disease progression in people with hepatitis C. For every cup that participants drank, there was a 20% decline in alcoholic liver syndrome. Other research found that coffee may protect against cirrhosis, including alcoholic cirrhosis.
  • Coffee has the ability to enhance physical performance, raising alertness, and improving short-term mental and physical performance. It has been shown to increase speed and power output in simulated race conditions and activities that range from 60 seconds to two hours.

Drinking coffee also appears to promote longevity—and is inversely associated with premature death.[xvi] Two 2017 studies published in the Annals of Medicine, which included 700,000 people from different racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, found that drinking more coffee was linked to a lower risk of death.[xvii] The first study followed non-white populations and determined that drinking two-to-four cups per day resulted in an 18% lower risk of death during the study period versus non-coffee drinkers. Further, drinking more coffee appeared to lower the chances of dying from cancer, heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, diabetes, or chronic lower respiratory disease.[xviii]

The second study followed people living in 10 European countries. It found that the top coffee drinkers (their wording) were 25% less likely to die during the 16-year study compared to non-coffee drinkers.[xix]

What a difference a few years makes—

This and other research have given that delectable drink an image makeover. The World Health Organization (WHO) removed coffee from its list of potentially carcinogenic foods in 2016—alone, a very unusual move—but then The WHO went on to designate coffee as potentially protective against cancer of the uterus and liver. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, commissioned by the secretaries of the US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Agriculture, also declared that “moderate coffee consumption” can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern. Further, the World Cancer Research Fund International concluded that coffee consumption was linked with a lower risk of several types of cancer.[xx]

Gooo coffee!!

Nutrition info

What’s in coffee from a nutritional standpoint? An 8-ounce cup of regular coffee contains about:[xxi]

  • 2.4 calories
  • 0.3 gram protein
  • 0.2 milligrams riboflavin (11% daily value)
  • 0.6 milligrams pantothenic acid (6% daily value)
  • 116 milligrams potassium (3% daily value)
  • 0.1 milligram manganese (3% daily value)
  • 7.1 milligrams magnesium (2% daily value)
  • 0.5 milligrams niacin (2% daily value)

And what about caffeine? It depends on what you drink. The level can vary, depending on the type of bean that you use, the manufacturer, and the method used for making your beloved cup. According to the USDA, an average 8-ounce cup brewed from ground beans has about 95 milligrams of caffeine. Compare that to a same-size Starbucks cup which has 155 milligrams, an average espresso with 64 milligrams, or a cup of green tea with 44 milligrams.[xxii] Decaf coffee has had about 97% of the caffeine removed, so while there’s still a bit, you won’t get the full protective benefits of regular coffee. If you’re trying to keep a lid (😊) on your caffeine intake, think about using Arabica beans, which have a lower caffeine content than other coffee beans.[xxiii]

Despite the good news, pregnant women might want to consider eliminating their caffeine intake or at least really limiting it. BMC Medicine published a Norwegian study that found that coffee consumption increased the chances of delivering a low-birthweight baby, as well as affecting the baby’s gestation period.[xxiv]

It’s not you…it’s me

What happens when you love coffee—but it doesn’t love you back? You have your beloved cup—or two—or five—and you wind up with a racing heart and the jitters—or heartburn (asking for a friend…)?

Like a charming ex-boyfriend or girlfriend that you know is bad for you, coffee can reel us back into something that we know we’ll regret later. I ummm…my friend…would often say, “Yeah…that was a two-Tums cup…”

So what’s with that? Unfortunately, our favorite beverage has some negative characteristics…

The dark side of coffee

Despite its health benefits that sneaky cuppa has also been known to:[xxv]

  • Be addictive. Yes—it’s possible to overdose, burning out your adrenal glands. And ask anyone who hasn’t gotten their daily fix how they’re doing with their headache, fatigue, and digestive issues—they won’t be able to concentrate anyway (because that’s another side effect.) Better watch their mood, though—without that cup, they’re likely to be irritable.
  • Cause digestive issues—just ask…um…my friend. It can worsen gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), whose symptoms include heartburn, nausea, and belching. Even without GERD, coffee can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. I ask, “How can you do this to someone who loves you??”
  • Alter your mood and increase anxiety. Caffeine has the ability to impact hormones, neurotransmitters function, nerve signaling, and muscles, particularly if you have underlying health conditions such as anxiety, heart problems, or diabetes—or if you’re using coffee to change how you feel and disguise underlying fatigue. Like wake you up even when you’ve already had your morning quota? Yeah…nobody does that…
  • And does contain acrylamide, a potential-cancer-causing-chemical. Acrylamide is used by the coffee industry to process coffee. It is also used in other industrial processes such as making paper, dyes, and plastics, and in treating drinking water and waste water—and it’s in cigarette smoke, food packaging, and some adhesives—who wouldn’t want that in their body?? Additionally, acrylamide can be created when carbohydrate-rich foods are cooked at high temperatures. Interestingly, coffee substitutes based on chicory typically contain two-to-three times more of the chemical than coffee. And it’s not just found in coffee. Potato chips, French fries, crisp bread, roasted breakfast cereals, processed crackers and cookies, and cocoa are among the most common acrylamide-containing foods.[xxvi] While the US Food and Drug Administration doesn’t regulate acrylamide in food, they have issued an update advising people to reduce their consumption of food in which the chemical is plentiful, noting that it is found in nearly 40% of calories consumed by the average American.[xxvii] Coffee also tends to be a heavily pesticide-sprayed crop, so try to drink coffee made with certified organic beans.
Courtesy of FB and HS friend Joan–thanks Joan!

Okay…so…

Remember—moderation, organic—not too much cream and sugar—and not too hot. Drinking beverages at very high temperatures—for example, higher than 149⁰F—increases your risk of esophageal cancer.[xxviii] Plus, you might get burned!

Please don’t give coffee to your kids on a regular basis! Seriously—do you really think they need the extra energy?? The benefits here refer to adults. Caffeine’s side effects on children can include jitteriness, nervousness, upset stomach, and problems sleeping and concentrating. High amounts can result in severe symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, frequent urination, and an irregular heartbeat. It can also reduce their number sleeping hours[xxix]…and yours!

You’re not perfect but I love you anyway…

As with most things in life, coffee’s not perfect, but its impressive health benefits are hard to deny. Like any other food or medication, though, every person’s body can have a different response to a substance—and you need to know the way that your own body responds to coffee or anything else. And, for most of us, moderation probably isn’t a bad thing.

Perhaps I’m on a roll, finding health benefits for the foods I love—in which case, my next stop is mac ‘n cheese. If I find any, you’ll be the first to know—stay tuned!😊

Until next time,


[i] Mercola, Joseph, MD; Here are 5 Reasons to Drink Coffee!; mercola.com; https://www.mercola.com/infographics/coffee-benefits.htm

[ii] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[iii] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; (2018 April 18); What’s All the Noise About Coffee?; https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/04/18/coffee-health-warnings.aspx

[iv] Shmerling, Robert H, MD; (2017 September 25); The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee; Harvard Health Blog; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-scoop-on-the-health-benefits-of-coffee-2017092512429

[v]Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[vi] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; Here are 5 Reasons to Drink Coffee; https://www.mercola.com/infographics/coffee-benefits.htm

[vii] Shmerling, Robert H, MD; (2017 September 25); The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee; Harvard Health Blog; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-scoop-on-the-health-benefits-of-coffee-2017092512429

[viii] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[ix] Ibid

[x] Ibid

[xi] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; Here are 5 Reasons to Drink Coffee; https://www.mercola.com/infographics/coffee-benefits.htm

[xii] Ibid

[xiii] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[xiv] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; Here are 5 Reasons to Drink Coffee; https://www.mercola.com/infographics/coffee-benefits.htm

[xv] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[xvi] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; (2018 April 18); What’s All the Noise About Coffee?; https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/04/18/coffee-health-warnings.aspx

[xvii] Ibid

[xviii] Ibid

[xix] Ibid

[xx] Shmerling, Robert H, MD; (2017 September 25); The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee; Harvard Health Blog; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-scoop-on-the-health-benefits-of-coffee-2017092512429

[xxi] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[xxii] Ibid

[xxiii] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; Here are 5 Reasons to Drink Coffee; https://www.mercola.com/infographics/coffee-benefits.htm

[xxiv] Ibid

[xxv] Link, Rachel, MS, RD; (2019 December 4); Is Coffee Bad for You? Coffee Nutrition Facts vs. Fiction; draxe.com; https://draxe.com/nutrition/coffee-nutrition-facts/

[xxvi] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; (2018 April 18); What’s All the Noise About Coffee?; https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/04/18/coffee-health-warnings.aspx

[xxvii] Ibid

[xxviii] Shmerling, Robert H, MD; (2017 September 25); The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee; Harvard Health Blog; Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School; https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/the-latest-scoop-on-the-health-benefits-of-coffee-2017092512429

[xxix] Mercola, Dr. Joseph; (2018 April 18); What’s All the Noise About Coffee?; https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2018/04/18/coffee-health-warnings.aspx