June 13, 2012:
Joy Bauer Takes a Coffee Break
Your day probably starts with
coffee. I know mine does! It’s the world’s most popular beverage besides water.
More than 50 percent of Americans drink it every day. That’s more than 330
million cups a day…and counting!
Coffee contains caffeine, a
fast-acting drug that’s absorbed within minutes. Coffee lovers rely on caffeine
to get them going in the morning, but is it safe? Let’s find out once and for
all whether coffee is a health drink or health hazard.
Good or Bad For You?
From a diet standpoint, coffee drinks can either
be harmless or horrific. It’s all
about the choices you make. Black coffee
has negligible calories, but as soon as you start adding cream, sugar and flavoring, it’s
a slippery slope. If you go for the “all-out” versions of specialty coffee
drinks, you’re looking at hundreds of calories and over 20 teaspoons of sugar. In
fact, you should consider frappes and other café concoctions a dessert, just
like a milkshake (the whipped cream is a dead giveaway!). A nonfat latte or
cappuccino at most coffee shops is a pretty safe bet — it’s a simple
blend of coffee or espresso and nonfat milk — and they usually
contain between 50 and 150 calories.
Light, delicious, and diet-friendly.
As far as other health concerns,
coffee lovers rejoice! We all know it helps you stay alert and focused, but
caffeinated coffee has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing
Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer, type 2 diabetes, gout, gallstones, and possibly
even depression. And having a mugful within an hour of your workout has been
shown to boost exercise endurance and performance.
You’ve probably heard that coffee
is dehydrating, but that coffee myth was debunked years ago. You have to drink
a lot of Joe — at least 4 to 5 cups — before coffee begins
to exert any diuretic effect.
Sensitivity to caffeine in
regular coffee varies from person to person, and exceeding your limit can lead
to jitteriness, irritability, upset stomach, or trouble sleeping. There’s no
exact science to figuring out your personal tolerance; it’s a matter of
listening to your body and adjusting your caffeine intake accordingly.
If you’re a woman who’s hoping to get pregnant sometime soon,
studies show that 300 mg or more of caffeine per day (that’s about 2 to 3 cups
of coffee) may reduce a woman’s chances of conceiving, so you certainly want to
keep your coffee intake in check if you’re planning to have kids. For pregnant
women, 1 cup of coffee is considered safe (less than 200 milligrams per day
does not appear to increase risk for miscarriage or premature birth).
both caffeinated and decaf coffee can worsen symptoms of heartburn and other gastrointestinal
conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and colitis.
How Much Caffeine Are You
Actually Getting in a Single Mug?
content in regular drip coffee ranges from about 100 to 150 mg per cup. Believe
it or not, that’s actually more caffeine than a single shot of espresso.
Ounce-for-ounce, espresso does pack in more caffeine, but your typical shot
only runs you 40 to 75 mg caffeine. That means a shot of espresso has about half
the caffeine of a typical cup of coffee — but order a double shot of
espresso and you’ll even the score!
Is Coffee Kitchen-Worthy?
As long as you don’t have a health issue that precludes you
from drinking coffee, you are good to go.
Just take it easy on the high-cal mix-ins. Skip the fattening cream and
whole milk and instead go for skim or 1% low-fat cow’s milk, or try soy milk or
unsweetened almond milk. As for the sugar. less is best. Use no more than 2
teaspoons or packets. And watch out for
fancy-schmancy coffee drinks that pack a huge caloric punch!
Now that you know what the heck you’re drinking, keep on
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