Busting Nutrition Myths: #4 – Coffee is Bad for You

Good morning! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and were able to implement some “selfish me time”. I chose to be selfish on Sunday morning and go on an hour and a half walk. It felt awesome! Sunday’s are my favorite day of the week because I always try to spend the day doing what I need and want to do before Monday rolls around…I think we all know the only thing that gets us through Monday is a generous cup or two (or three…) of coffee. And since this is your Monday Morning Coffee post, I think its only fitting that we talk about that little cup of joe in your hand.

Being Colombian, coffee is in my blood. I remember drinking it when I was in elementary school…before you freak out and scold my parents, the cup was probably no bigger than 4 ounces. I’m proud to say I’ve graduated to a 16 ounce up with the words “Life is Good” painted on it. But I digress! I can’t tell you how many people have told me that drinking coffee is bad for me. “It’ll give you kidney stones”, “It dehydrates you”, and the list goes on and on. Every time someone said something like this to me, I always thought back to my Hispanic roots. My Abuela (grandma) is 81 years old, doesn’t exercise, doesn’t drink water, and only eats fried food and sweets. Oh, and she smokes about two packs a day. The one thing she does multiple times a day is drink coffee. Her sister, my Tia (aunt), is 92 years old and eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. What does she have with that cake? Coffee. So if these two ladies (who I love to death) have made it this far, they have to be doing something right, and I think that something is coffee.

Thankfully, there is a bunch of research to back up my hypothesis. While it has nothing on some strawberries, coffee is actually the average American’s number one source of dietary antioxidants. Surprising right? Every cup also provides your body with vitamins B3, B5, and B12 as well as manganese, potassium, and magnesium. While they are only about 2-10% of the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), this can add up quickly after a few cups. Coffee drinkers also have lower risks of contracting type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. One study even showed coffee drinkers had a lower risk of contracting liver cancer! Take that coffee-haters 🙂 I will admit that none of these studies took people aside, made them drink coffee, and watched what happened. They simply took people that already drank coffee and compared their health outcomes to those that did not. Nonetheless, I will take my chances and follow the science!

I hate to admit it, but the anti-coffee drinkers did get a few things right. Coffee is a diuretic, so it will make you pee more. Thankfully, you can fix this by drinking a little more water during the day. Also for those of you that did not know, coffee also contains caffeine. The caffeine is what wakes you up and keeps you going…aka the “buzz”. While a little is good, too much can be problematic. It can head to heart arrhythmia, jitteriness, or insomnia if taken in excess. I would suggest not having more than 2-3 cups a day and to stop drinking coffee after lunchtime. Everyone is different, though. Personally, I can have coffee after dinner and fall asleep on the couch within the hour. Thank you Hispanic genes! I know this is not the case for everyone, so be smart and listen to your body!

I do have one last qualm that some people might not like…but try to drink it as black as possible. Calories can quickly add up in a latte or frappuccino from Starbucks. Just an FYI…a Grande vanilla latte has 250 calories and 35 grams of sugar. The American Heart Association suggests not having more than 36 grams a day of added sugar for men and 25 grams for women. So, you are basically already over that, and its not even 9 am yet! I know it is not reasonable to ask you to go cold turkey on cream and sugar, but slowly weaning off of it may help trim your waistline. Simply cutting back on one packet of sugar and two tablespoons of half & half can save you almost 50 calories. While that might not seem like a lot, it adds up to 100 calories after two cups. After a month, you’d lose a pound without having to set foot on a treadmill!

Aside from all of this, I’d like to think coffee has more health benefits than lowering risk factors. Coffee is a social drink. Grabbing a cup at a local shop with some friends always ensures a good time. Getting one to go and drinking it on the beach or somewhere scenic will fill your soul with more happiness than you can imagine. Even more, having a cup with loved ones over a Sunday morning breakfast elicits memories that last a lifetime. So go ahead and pour yourself a cup. Life is just getting started.

Take Aways:

  • Coffee is not bad for you! It is actually the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet.
  • Coffee drinkers have lower risks for type II diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Try to drink it as black as possible to get the health benefits without the extra calories.
  • It brings memories that last a lifetime 🙂

References:

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.Wchbi9OGO9Y

https://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/espresso/vanilla-latte

https://www.dietitiancassie.com/confronting-the-coffee-controversy/

http://www.fannetasticfood.com/is-coffee-healthy/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-13-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coffee#section1

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