Coffee is one of our favourite hot beverages. But can it damage your health? HFG nutrition director Catherine Saxelby weighs up the pros and cons.
Black coffee without sugar has no kilojoules or fat. Caffeine can curb hunger, by triggering the release of fatty acids into the bloodstream, providing fuel and by-passing the need for insulin (in other words, you don’t feel the need to snack).
Caffeine has the wonderful ability to boost memory, concentration and brain power and reduce the perception of fatigue, which is why many athletes use it. in fact, up until 2004, the international olympic Committee listed caffeine as a banned substance.
Keeping diabetes at bay
Recent studies have turned up an association between drinking coffee and a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. the latest one from the uS analysed data on over 450,000 people and found that an average of 3–4 cups of percolated coffee per day lowered their risk of developing diabetes by around 20 per cent.
- Caffeine delays the onset of sleep and reduces your total sleep time.
- It’s a diuretic – which can cause dehydration (but you’d have to drink an awful lot of it).
- In 2008, a US study reported that pregnant women consuming 200mg caffeine or more per day equivalent to two large lattes were about twice as likely to miscarry, so its best to limit intake during pregnancy and while breast feeding.
- Drinking unfiltered coffee, such as turkish, Greek or plunger varieties, can raise cholesterol. Researchers found that five cups a day could send cholesterol up by 1mmol/l (significant when the ideal level is 5.5mmol/l or less).
- Anyone with a pre-existing heart condition should be cautious about consuming too much coffee. every few years, there are reports of people as young as 25 suffering caffeine-induced cardiac arrhythmia after overdoing it on coffee or energy drinks.
Despite the benefits, it’s still best to moderate your intake. 140–210mg caffeine per day poses no significant health issues, but more can cause problems. if you’re pregnant, limit yourself to 70mg per day.
Note – caffeine amounts do vary
- 1 cup instant coffee = 60–80mg
- 1 cup plunger coffee = 190mg
- 1 cup percolated coffee = 60–120mg
- 1 shot espresso (café quality) = 194mg