Make your coffee habit a healthy habit

Coffee is the go-to choice for many Americans when they’re craving a caffeine jolt. Daily coffee drinkers has hit it’s highest level since 2012 with 64% of Americans 18 and older drinking at least 1 cup per day. This is also starkly contrasted to the decline seen in the soda and juice industries. This increase may be due to many studies in the past decade demonstrating health benefits of caffeine in coffee. Things like lower rates of cancer and decreased risk for type 2 diabetes are just a few of the benefits being reported today.

But before you start drinking straight from the coffee pot or reaching for a pack of the newest energy drink, it’s important to learn the effects of caffeine and a bit of moderation. Caffeine is a stimulant. Much like a stressful situation will trigger certain parts of your nervous system, caffeine gives us that alert feeling by activating certain parts of our brain. This results in a mild increase in blood pressure and a higher heart rate. The good news is that regular coffee consumption is not linked with heart disease and may even lower the chance of stroke.

So, what’s the danger? Excessive consumption has risks above what’s seen in normal consumption. Anxiety, jitters, digestive problems, and even heart burn can be seen when you rely on coffee as a substitute for good sleep. As with any substance, overdose is possible. A recent report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers tracked over 2,500 calls about caffeine overdose with more than half from energy drinks. Thankfully no deaths were reported in these calls, but in extremely rare instances excessive, rapid energy drink consumption has resulted in death. These tend to happen when someone consumes multiple sources of caffeine in a very short amount of time.

Weighing the good with the bad

Thankfully, healthy amounts of caffeine are up to 400 milligrams for most adults which is about 4 cups of coffee. The national average consumption is about 3 cups per day. Keeping your consumption moderate or below average will afford you the health benefits without straying close to the excessive use category.

You can also make your coffee habit healthier by avoiding sugary and high calorie concoctions. About two-thirds of people add sugar, milk, cream, or other additives to their coffee. These can add hundreds of calories to your daily intake which could lead to weight gain and punch a hole in your budget since lattes and energy drinks cost a few dollars more than plain coffee. Instead, opt for black coffee or add natural spices like cinnamon, cocoa, or nutmeg each with their own health benefits. Green tea can also be an alternative to coffee for a caffeine fix. It’s best to avoid energy drinks as they are highly processed or have excessive amounts of sugar in them.

Remember to enjoy your coffee responsibly. Those with high blood pressure should talk with their doctor about consuming caffeine and monitor their pressure carefully. Caffeine shouldn’t be used as a crutch for lack of sleep or staying up late. This can lead to excessive consumption and ruin the health benefits you may be getting from it.