Many of us start the day with a jolt of caffeine. In fact, according to the FDA, 80% of adults take in some form of caffeine daily. You have probably heard some of the negative effects of caffeine, but have you heard the positive? March is National Nutrition Month and National Caffeine Awareness Month, so it’s time to shed some light on the subject.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant and one of the most commonly used ingredients in the world. Although caffeine can cause negative effects on sleep and anxiety, there are also some health benefits. The following positive and negative effects from caffeine have been shown in several studies.
Stimulates the brain
Improves alertness and short-term recall and reaction time
May reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease
May increase metabolism
May enhance exercise performance
Doesn’t raise the risk of heart disease
May protect the liver
Lowers risk of liver and colorectal cancers
Not appropriate for children and adolescents
If consumed in the afternoon it could cause an interruption in sleep
Mixing alcohol and caffeine is unsafe
May lead to heartburn
May cause increased anxiety in those who are sensitive to caffeine
May temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure
*Some of the positive effects may be partly due to the bioactive compounds in coffee rather than the caffeine itself.
So how much caffeine is good for you? Studies have shown that about 400 mg of caffeine per day can be beneficial. It is better to divide the 400 mg into two 200 mg doses. Pregnant women should limit their daily caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.
Too much caffeine may cause headaches and high blood pressure. It may also cause anxiety, restlessness and trouble sleeping. Too much caffeine in pregnancy may increase the risk of miscarriage and low birth weight.
Caffeine content of popular beverages per 8oz (240 ml):
Espresso 240-200 mg
Coffee 102-200 mg
Energy drinks 50-160 mg
Brewed tea 40-120 mg
Soft drinks 20-40 mg
Decaf coffee 3-12 mg
Cocoa beverages 2-7 mg
Chocolate milk 2-7 mg
Whether you like it cold or hot, caffeine consumed in moderate amounts of no more than 200mg per dose with no more than 400 mg per day can be beneficial, so enjoy your morning java! Try this healthy iced coffee recipe.
Healthy Iced Coffee
Makes 3 servings
3 cups cold coffee or cold brew
3 cups low-fat or skim milk (or substitute your favorite dairy-free milk such as almond milk or coconut milk)
Honey, maple syrup, agave or stevia to sweeten (optional)
Helpful hint: you can freeze leftover coffee in ice cube trays for a quick and easy way to enjoy iced coffee. Just fill your tumbler with coffee ice cubes and add your favorite milk and sweetener
Nutrition: 107 calories; 18 g carbohydrate; 9 g protein; 1g fat; 1 g saturated fat
Tracey Shaffer is a registered dietitian and certified health coach and owner of KC Nutrition Coach in Eastern Jackson County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can visit her website at kcnutritioncoach.com.