Do you feel a pang of guilt when you reach for your favourite mid morning pick-me-up? Despite all the bad press, coffee is not nearly as bad for you as you think. In fact it has some health benefits that may surprise you!
Here are the answers to common questions my clients ask me about coffee:
Is coffee dehydrating?
A review of the latest research on the impact of caffeine on hydration status in Australia last year concluded that caffeine has only a minor diuretic effect and this is negated when you exercise.
Are there any health benefits from drinking coffee?
There is a growing body of research looking at the health benefits of coffee. In addition to the compound we know as caffeine, coffee contains a class of polyphenols called chlorogenic acids. These acids function as antioxidants which help to protect the DNA in your cells from damage.
Researchers in Japan have found that drinking coffee is associated with a reduced number of age spots and a Finnish study has shown that coffee appears to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels too.
This is all great news for your body and health, both from the outside and within.
Are there any health risks from drinking coffee?
It's not all good news though; a large scale study on bone health has discovered that women who drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day are at a greater risk of developing fractures; and a Canadian study has recommended that reproductive-aged women should consume less than 300mg of coffee a day. The problem is that the caffeine content of coffee varies widely, so it's difficult to know how much you're getting.
Is decaffeinated coffee better for me?
If you find yourself sensitive to the effects of caffeine, such as when you are feeling wired and tired, or are suffering with poor quality sleep, you may find that switching to decaffeinated coffee helps. I recommend brands which have used water rather than chemicals to remove the caffeine as this is better for your body. This is called the Swiss Water Method and will be referenced on the label, ideally along with a stamp from the Soil Association to say that it's passed organic standards.
Are there any good brands available locally?
My local favourite supplier for a home brew is Wogan's Organic Coffee and Organic Decaffeinated Coffee - they take special care to preserve the natural goodness and flavour, and the beans are roasted and vacuum packed here and shipped out of the warehouse within 4 days. Clipper also offer a good instant decaffeinated coffee where carbon dioxide is used instead of water, although you are much better off with the freshly roasted and ground beans if you want to enjoy the associated health benefits too.
If you're out and about in Bristol it's less easy to find that perfect healthy blend of fair trade, high quality, and freshly roasted organic coffee - I've had a proper job trying to source a place to film my latest episode for MadeinBristol television tomorrow morning. Like anyting else, I think it's important to know where your beans come from, so I've been on the phone for most of the day! Thali Café (Easton and Clifton) came at the top of the list, but they don't open until 12pm. So next on the list with their amazing tasting coffee was Spicer & Cole, sourced by Extract Coffee Roasters. You can read all about their coffee here.
So what's the verdict? If you love your coffee, stick to 1-2 cups of preferably organic and freshly ground and brewed coffee a day.
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2. Bidel, Hu. "Effects of coffee consumption on glucose tolerance, serum glucose and insulin levels - a cross sectional analysis". Horm Metab Res. 2006 Jan;38(1):38-43.
3. Nawrot, Jordan. "Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Addit Contam. 2003 Jan;20(1):1-30.
4. Zhang Y1, Coca A2. "Caffeine and diuresis during rest and exercise: A meta-analysis." J Sci Med Sport. 2014 Aug 9. pii: S1440-2440(14)00143-1. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.07.017. [Epub ahead of print