Two Cups a Day...
Around 2 in the afternoon, I often enjoy a coffee chocolate soy drink, recovering my morning clarity with every sip.
Fortunately, coffee is one pick-me-up that has notable health benefits.
According to a 2011 review of the latest scientific studies published in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, drinking two to three cups of coffee daily can improve cognitive functioning and digestion. This dosage could even help reduce one’s risk for coronary heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and liver diseases.
A study reviewing the effects of caffeine on human health commissioned by Health Canada showed that moderate caffeine intakes of 400 mg per day or less has not been associated with adverse health effects in healthy adults. As a reference, eight ounces of Starbuck’s bold coffee contains around 180 mg of caffeine, with weaker brews containing less.
Coffee contains five calories for eight ounces, making it a low-calorie beverage. The same-sized latte made with nonfat milk has 70 calories and is considered a good source of calcium, providing 25 percent of the daily requirement.
Some coffee shop creations are surprisingly high in sugar and fat, so be aware. Starbuck’s Grande (16 ounce) White Chocolate Mocha contains 400 calories. Typically, simple coffee drinks are healthiest and least expensive.
Of course, there are some health concerns associated with consumption. While caffeine does not cause hypertension, it has been shown to increase blood pressure for a short duration. Certain groups, such as people with hypertension and the elderly, may be more susceptible to adverse effects of caffeine. Limiting coffee intake to three cups per day may help prevent bone fractures in older adults.
The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women cap caffeine consumption at 200 mg a day, as higher levels may increase risk of miscarriage and impair fetal growth. Also, there is a potential for adverse interactions with a number of medications.
People who have problems sleeping should be careful with caffeine, especially in the evening.
But for most healthy adults, coffee is one enjoyable beverage that may be included in a healthy lifestyle. Here is my favorite way to use leftover morning coffee.
Chocolate Coffee Drink
8 ounces coffee, regular or decaf
8 ounces of chocolate soy (I use the light soymilk) or almond milk
Mix together and serve chilled or heat in the microwave to desired temperature.
(Provides 95 calories, 180 mg. caffeine, 45% daily value for calcium, 30% vitamin D and 50% vitamin B12)
Margie Mansure, M.S., R.D. is a registered dietitian/nutritionist and extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. She offers personalized classes to improve the health of citizens in Watauga County through worksites, schools and community groups. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (828) 264-3061