Coffee and Your Health

By Michelle Yavelow

Coffee! It’s everywhere, comes in just about every flavor, and is consumed by millions of Americans every day to help them wake up, focus, socialize, and more.

In fact, with trendy gourmet espresso and coffee shops on every corner and the increased use of single-cup brewing systems, Americans are drinking more coffee than ever. Is this a good thing?

What’s in your coffee?

Black coffee, that is, coffee made without cream, milk, sugar, or syrup, has hardly any calories and can give you the jolt you may be looking for any time of day. On top of that, black coffee intake has been associated with lower rates of certain types of cancer, diabetes, liver disease, and Parkinson’s disease, even if it’s decaf. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest that moderate coffee consumption (i.e., 3 to 5, 8 ounce cups per day) can be a part of a healthy eating pattern.

But look what happens when you start adding the extras to your cup of “joe”! As you can see from the table, the fat and/or sugar added to these drinks increases the calories. These extras may reverse the health benefits of coffee by promoting weight gain, heart disease, and insulin resistance. These are risk factors associated with developing type 2 diabetes.

Food Item Calories (kcal) Sugar (grams) Fat (grams)
8 ounces black coffee 2 0 0
8 ounces coffee with cream and sugar 69 11 2
12 ounces sweetened iced coffee with 2% milk 110 23 1.5
12 ounces cappuccino with 2% milk 120 10 4
12 ounces flat white with 2% milk 180 17 11
16 ounces latte with whole milk 200 15 10
12 ounces caramel macchiato 250 33 7
12 ounces caramel blended frozen coffee 280 60 15
12 ounces mocha with 2% milk 290 35 15


There are a few other downsides to coffee. If you drink it piping hot, it may cause damage to your esophagus. Over time, this can increase your risk for esophageal cancer.

Chronic consumption of caffeinated beverages also may negatively impact sleep quality and quantity, so you may want to cut back on your intake if you think it’s impacting your sleep.

The bottom line?

Moderate coffee intake appears to have potential positive health benefits, but to get the most from your coffee, keep these tips in mind:

  • Limit added ingredients to coffee (i.e., sugar, cream, milk).
  • If you need to add something to your coffee, try fat-free or low-fat milk and/or a sugar substitute.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  • Compare the nutrition information for commercial drinks to make the best decision.
  • Limit intake of caffeine close to bedtime.
  • Allow very hot beverages to cool a bit before drinking them.

So, go ahead and enjoy your cup of joe! Just remember to skip the extras most of the time. It’s better for you and is easier on your wallet.



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Posted: May 3, 2018

Category: Health & Nutrition
Tags: Coffee, Dietetic Internship

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