Coffee is more than just a drink, it’s a passion. Or an addiction.
Millions of people all over the world can’t start off their day without a cup of joe, and for many, just one cup doesn’t cut it. The allure is understandable: coffee is aromatic, rich in taste and gets the blood flowing. It also has a lot of health benefits (more on that later), but like most other things, too much of it can cause some major harm.But how much is too much? This is exactly the question that Professor Elena Hyppönen and Dr. Ang Zhou from the University of South Australia set out to answer.
According to them, the point at which caffeine starts to affect you adversely is the sixth cup, as the likelihood of heart disease appears to spike up by as much as 22% among people who imbibe six cups or more of coffee on a daily basis.A cup can be a confusing measurement, so to elucidate, what they mean by a “cup” is a beverage containing roughly 70-140 milligrams of caffeine. This is important to understand because the “cup” you’d order at the nearest café might contain much more caffeine than that, depending on size and potency. On top of that, coffee isn’t the only way we ingest caffeine, as it can be found in tea and sodas.How much caffeine does your drink contain?
- A cup of brewed coffee contains about 140 mg of caffeine
- A cup of instant coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine
- A cup of espresso contains about 65 mg of caffeine
- A cup of black tea contains about 47 mg of caffeine
- A cup of green tea contains about 35 mg of caffeine
- A cup of white tea contains about 25 mg of caffeine
- A 20 oz bottle of soda contains about 45 mg of caffeine
- A can of energy drink contains about 77 mg of caffeine
What’s the big deal, anyway?
Overindulging in coffee can cause insomnia, an increased resting heart rate, heartburn, and acid reflux, as well as triggering or aggravating anxiety, and that’s just the effects of caffeine. When considering the pros and cons of coffee, one must also consider that many people drink it with cream, milk, sugar or artificial sweeteners, all of which come with a long list of disadvantages.But it’s not just heart rate that’s affected by caffeine. According to the study by Hyppönen and Zhou, excessive coffee consumption was associated with higher blood pressure, which is linked with cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, heart failure, and stroke.
Not all is bad, though
That shouldn’t necessarily mean you should throw away all of your coffee mugs, as coffee has plenty of health benefits as well.For one, coffee contains more antioxidants than fruit, vegetables, and red wine. Why is that important? Antioxidants help protect the body from cell degeneration caused by free radicals, flawed molecules that lack electrons and seek to compensate by stealing electrons from nearby cells. The damage caused by free radicals has been associated with aging, as well as the development of tumors. In short, coffee slows down aging and may protect you from cancer.It’s also great for the liver, protecting it from the ravages of alcohol consumption and various liver diseases, including liver cancer and fibrosis.Finally, if you drink your coffee unsweetened, you may benefit from a greatly decreased chance of contracting type 2 diabetes.
What’s the verdict?
Coffee isn’t just fine; for most people, it’s great. If you keep your daily dose of steaming dark brew to 1-5 cups, or 70-400 milligrams of caffeine a day, you should be perfectly fine and will be able to reap the many health benefits coffee provides. Just remember to factor in other drinks that may contain caffeine, such as sodas, into your calculation.