Coffee – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?

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Let’s admit it, shall we? For the most part, we are an addicted nation. We love the smell, taste and feel of holding our morning cup of coffee in our hand. Who has not heard the new battle cry of North Americans chanting, “I will have a grande, double double, decaf, soy, latté, no foam.” Cozy bookstores have even gone so far as to put coffee shops in their retail outlets. Who doesn’t enjoy drinking a latté while flipping through their favourite book or magazine? Let’s be honest --when it comes to coffee and caffeine, we just can’t seem to get enough.

Coffee consumption has been on a gradual rise in the past few decades. Consider some of the following statistics:

• 80% of Americans drink coffee regularly.

• Per capita, men drink approximately 1.9 cups per day, whereas women drink an average of 1.4 cups of coffee a day.

• In the United States, spending on coffee approximated 9.2 billion dollars in the retail sector and 8.7 billion dollars in the foodservice sector every year (SCAA 1999 Market Report Coffee and Health).

In terms of health, there are pros and cons of drinking coffee. Let’s examine the pros first. A recent study funded by the American Cocoa Research Institute, says coffee drinkers appear to have higher levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body against various types of cancers. Another research study conducted in 2004 showed that regular coffee consumption lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes. The mechanism as to why this occurred is unclear and further research into this area needs to be conducted. Other studies have shown that coffee may reduce the risk of developing gallstones, it may prevent the development of colon cancer, it can be beneficial for people with Parkinson’s disease and it may improve cognitive function.

But, there is a downside to coffee consumption. Coffee is highly acidic and can leach precious minerals from our system. For optimal health and disease prevention, the goal is to keep our bodies more alkaline than acidic. To read more, visit Eat in pH balance. Coffee can also cause anxiety, heart palpitations, raise blood pressure and it can be highly addictive. Many report that drinking too much coffee actually leaves them feeling more tired than alert. Lastly, the diuretic effect of coffee must be taken into account by compensating with the consumption of water.

So, the question begs – is coffee thumbs up or thumbs down? I believe one cup of coffee per day is neutral for health. While it may provide substantial antioxidant benefits, it has negative health effects that must be considered. If you do indulge in a morning java as I do, try a “healthier” way of drinking coffee which includes:

1. Drink organic coffee. The coffee bean is one of the most heavily sprayed crops with herbicides and pesticides. Purchase organic coffee from your local health food store. Although it is more expensive, you will be reducing the toxic component considerably.

2. Stick to one cup of coffee per day. After that, switch to green tea which is also loaded with antioxidants and will give you an extra pep in your step. Green tea has also been shown to be beneficial for weight loss.

3. Avoid the specialty coffee drinks loaded with sugar and fat. Refer to the chart below.

4. Follow up your coffee with a glass of water or a cup of herbal tea to ensure you are hydrated properly.

Product Serving size (fl oz)Calories Total fat Sat fatTotal carbsSugar Protein
Coffee of

the week

Hot choc no whip16350147474014
Hot choc whip16 4502413494114


Cappu16 1508513118
Caramel mocha whip164702112625012
Iced coffee latté 161608513118
Iced vanilla latté16 21074 31 287

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