Coffee has frequently suffered from a health image problem. It is perhaps because of the name that so close to its alkaloid component, caffeine. Here, I copied some texts from a coffee book: “The World in a Cup” by Sheridan Rogers. I also mixed it with some contents from some books on nutrition to provide information that is more complete. As Ian Bersten points out in “Coffee, Sex & Health” (Helian Books), coffee can play a role in keeping you healthy if consumed in moderation as indicated in the following research:
- Mark Florence, former chief scientist with the CSIRO and co-author of “The Handbook of Preventive Medicine” (Kingsclear Books) found that brewed coffee lessen into minimal state the action of a chemical called theophylline into, which helps, dilate bronchial muscles that become constricted during cold or flu epidemics or in asthmatics. He recommends drinking no more than 2 cups brewed or 4 cups instant per day.
- In Mark Walqvist’s book “Age fit: Fitness and Nutrition for an Independent Future” (Pan MacMillan), it is reported that coffee releases fat from fat cells and assists in weight loss. He also says that coffee may play a role in cancer prevention but stresses the links are weak. He points out that the way in which coffee is made may determine how beneficial it is – freshly filtered is best.
- After analysing 17 published studies on coffee consumption and colorectal cancer, Professor Edward Giovanucci of Harvard Medical School found the risk of colorectal cancer to be 24 per cent lower among those who drink four or more cups of coffee per day than the risk among those who rarely or never drink coffee. Coffee contains potentially cardio protective flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties, so the occasional cup of coffee may not be bad for you, it may even provide some benefit.
Here is a table describing common levels of caffeine in foods and beverages:
Beverage Caffeine content (mg)
Instant coffee 1 heaped tsp 90mg
Percolated coffee 200ml 100mg
Brewed (drip method) 200ml 140mg
Espresso 100ml 80mg
Cafe latte 55mg
The recommended intake of caffeine is less than 200mg/day.
Coffee association to several diseases
For patient with hypoglycaemia, caffeine can cause the same symptoms as hypoglycaemia and make the individual feel worse. Thus, it is better to avoid.
Although limited data is available, caffeine (coffee, tea, cola) has been frequently associated with GER (Gastroesophageal reflux disease, characterized by symptoms of acid reflux and heartburn) and peptic ulcer disease. Therefore, there is a need to limiting intake of caffeine containing beverages and foods including coffee, tea, iced tea, colas, and chocolate. Patients may have varying degrees of sensitivity to different high-risk foods.
Caffeine, along with chocolate, cheese, fruits, caffeine, and alcohol may play some role in the pathogenesis of migraines either by modulating the release of neurotransmitters or by stimulating neural-receptors. Given the popularity of soft drinks, teas, and coffee, people may consume large quantities of caffeine on a daily basis. Abrupt cessation of caffeinated beverages can precipitate a migraine, most typically within 24–48 hours. Although caffeine intake initially causes cerebral vasoconstriction, a rebound vasodilatation, and increased blood-flow occurs when one discontinue it.
Coffee and women
There is recommendation for women to reduce their intake of coffee and other beverages high in caffeine to decrease PMS (Pre-menstrual Syndrome) symptoms. This recommendation is holding up with time. A study at the University of Oregon demonstrated that PMS symptoms in college women increased in severity as coffee intake increased from 1 cup to 8 to 10 cups a day. Risk of severe symptoms was eight times higher in women consuming the highest average daily amount of coffee (8 to 10 cups) compared to non-coffee drinkers.
The effect of caffeine consumption on foetus development is still unclear. Recent studies have found an association between the caffeine levels present in two cups of coffee consumed each day and spontaneous abortion during the first trimester. The current recommendation advises pregnant women to reduce their caffeine intake from all sources, including tea, cocoa, and soda. They should minimize total intake to 150–300 mg/day. In addition, avoiding caffeine as well as the other foods that cause stomach irritation (e.g. fatty foods, spicy foods, and tomato-based foods) may also assist in alleviating nausea and vomiting.
Based on recent evidence, it seems that up to three cups of coffee or equivalent caffeine intake a day will not do any harm (unless you are pregnant or suffering from some disease that sensitive to caffeine intake) and may indeed provide some health benefits.
Sheridan Rogers. A Coffee Book: The World in a Cup
Darwin Deen and Lisa Hark (Ed.). The Complete Nutrition Guide in Primary Care.
Judith E. Brown. Nutrition Trough the Life Cycle.
More information about caffeine:
Food Facts – Wahlqvist ML, Briggs D.
Caffeine Food Questions and Answers – Wahlqvist ML, Briggs, D.