Many Australian’s begin their day with a good ol’ cup of coffee! Ahh, who doesn’t love the rushes of warmth and energy when your morning beverage hits, getting you on your way to take on the day?! But, is coffee really good for you? Busy corporates may argue that it is the essential boost they need to get through their day of work. While others believe it is harmful to health and may leave us dehydrated… So, what has the research brewed up for us?
Is Coffee ‘Healthy’?
Early research indicated that coffee may play a role in contributing to diseases such as cardiovascular disease when first studied in the 1960s (Nieber, 2017). However, since then, our favourite bean has been studied many times and the link between coffee and heart-related conditions was ruled out (Nieber, 2017). Moderate drinking (between 3-5 cups/day) has actually been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (Nieber, 2017). Talk about a win for the coffee drinkers!
New research has also found many benefits of drinking coffee, including:
- Increased energy and mental focus
- Assistance with weight loss (in some cases)
- Improved mood
- Improved exercise performance
- Reduced risk of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Liver Disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Heart Disease (Nieber, 2017, American Heart Association, 2018)
Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants which may also help reduce cell damage in the body! So, coffee actually DOES have many health benefits (Nieber, 2017)!
What About Decaf Drinkers?
There is also research supporting the benefits of drinking decaf which may indicate that other compounds in coffee, outside of the caffeine, may be major contributors to its benefits (Nieber, 2017)!
Doesn’t Caffeine Dehydrate You?
No! Studies show no difference in the hydration status between regular coffee drinkers vs those who drink the same volume of fluid from water (Killer et al., 2014). In saying this, if you are not a regular coffee drinker, you may find yourself going to the toilet more regularly (Killer et al., 2014). This is to do with the diuretic effect (which promotes urine production) of coffee in irregular drinkers. When you do drink coffee regularly, you increase tolerance to the diuretic effect, therefore resisting the need to go!
Remember, It’s Not for Everyone
Some people do not tolerate coffee well and may experience jitters, palpitations and insomnia. In this case, it may be better avoided (American Heart Association, 2018). Meanwhile, others may find that it contributes to uncomfortable gut symptoms and loose bowels. If that is the case, give it a miss! In saying that, some finds it helps ‘moves things along’ in their guts, helping alleviate constipation and in that case, go right ahead!
It is also recommended that children should not drink coffee, and pregnant and breastfeeding women limit their caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day, so around 1-2 instant cups per day ( Nieber, 2017).
What Kind of Coffee is Best?
So, if it IS good for you, does that mean you can freely order a full fat, caramel latte served with whipped cream and two sugars and reap all these health benefits? Unfortunately, not.
Although coffee may have a number of health benefits, how we have our coffee can also influence our health. We recommend that you:
- Go for a long black or made with reduced-fat milk
- Avoid adding sugar, cream and other sweeteners
- If having it milk-based, treat this as your morning or afternoon snack and watch the size; opt for a small or regular size
- Avoid adding syrups and chocolate flavouring
- Limit intake of frappes or iced coffees made with ice cream and cream
- Enjoy every sip!!
The indulgent additions and overall size can greatly influence your daily energy intake. We want to avoid ‘drinking our kilojoules (calories)’ as this can contribute to weight gain and increased intakes of saturated fats and added sugars which can have negative impacts on health.
The bottom line is that coffee can be included as part of a healthy diet and help give you that energy pang to you kick your goals throughout the day – just watch the way you make or order it!
If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, head to our website and get in contact with one of our amazing dietitians today!