Ever wondered what your morning cup of coffee is doing to your body?
Coffee is commonly thought to have been detrimental to health, yet recent studies have concluded that moderate coffee consumption (that's up to five cups of coffee a day) is absolutely fine as part of a balanced lifestyle. It has also been proven to increase physical and mental performance. That said, excessive caffeine intake can have negative short term effects on the body.
Here's the facts you need to know about coffee and health.
According to the Coffee and Health Organisation, caffeine can improve alertness, attention and concentration, which is why so many of us reach for the coffee when confronted with a long day of admin at work. The European Food Safety Authority advises that 75mg caffeine (1 cup of coffee) is sufficient to raise alertness.
A Harvard health study has concluded that drinking coffee has no long term health effects, however the milk, cream, sugar and flavourings we add to our coffee does.
The average 8 ounce cup of black coffee has just 1-2 calories, yet the takeaway lattes and cappuccinos from the coffee chains where we grab our morning cup of Joe from on the way to work are a different story.
Here are the nutritional contents of these common coffees from three major London coffee chains, without sugar.
Coffee has long been believed to have a diuretic effect, however this has been disproved by recent studies. Although caffeine is a short term diuretic, this dehydration is far outweighed by the accompanying fluid intake. As a result, coffee can now be recommended as a supplement to increase athletic performance, counteracting fatigue and increasing endurance by stimulating the central nervous system. It is also thought to improve alertness and reaction time.
However, all that over stimulation can be a bit risky. It is possible to become dependent on coffee, which in addition to being harmful on wallet, leads to questions as to whether it is a good idea to leave your energy levels and mental performance in the hands of a roasted coffee bean. It could be argued that it is better in the long term to maintain more consistent energy levels through a balanced diet and exercise.
Excessive coffee drinking (that's more than six normal 8oz cups or 3 16oz regular takeaway coffees from Starbucks et al) can cause tremors, sleep problems and anxiety.
Finally, did you know that coffee contains high levels of cafestol, which increases cholesterol. Cafestol is removed when coffee is brewed with a paper filter or though the instant coffee making process. Unfiltered coffee can be bad news for people with high cholesterol, but espressos are somewhere between the two.