Is caffeine bad for you? Let us explore the good and the bad because it's not as black and white as one might think.
Let’s get down to brass tacks:
Caffeinated beverages will dehydrate you. FALSE
FACT: In a study done by Lawrence Armstrong at the University of Connecticut, 10 different studies were conducted all producing basically the same result. It was found that caffeine was at most a mild diuretic. Even the National Institutes of Health found in a controlled experiment that drinking black tea or drinking water was essentially the same, as far as keeping your body hydrated. FYI: There have been studies on this dating as far back as 1928!
Caffeine is addictive. TRUE
FACT: Caffeine is a drug. For those who are die hard coffee fans, if they suddenly stop drinking it, find there are withdrawal effects such as headaches. So with anything moderation is key. I once drank an entire pitcher of our delicious Black Currant Iced Tea in one afternoon. The zing I experience was ridiculous and the crash and burn is not something I want to experience again. Moderation, moderation, moderation! FYI: Caffeine can be lethal if you were to drink over 100 cups of coffee in a 4 hour period! Seriously? Who is going to drink that much coffee? But it does give one pause to all these energy drinks our kids are drinking.
Caffeine increases the risk of heart disease.
FACT: Large-scale studies have shown that caffeine consumption does not increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and does not raise cholesterol levels or even cause an irregular heartbeat. FYI: A slight, temporary rise in blood pressure has been observed with caffeine consumption with individual who are to caffeine. However, this rise is similar to that resulting from normal activity, such as climbing stairs. Still, people with high blood pressure are wise to consult their physician about caffeine intake.
Caffeine causes cancer. FALSE
FACT: There have been numerous scientific studies that have proven caffeine does not increase your risk for cancer. FYI: Google it. I did. You’ll be amazed at the information that is out there.
There are no positive effects of caffeine. FALSE
FACT: Aside from the obvious in increasing both alertness and attention span levels, studies have shown that caffeine may actually improve memory and logical reasoning. Many caffeinated beverages, most notably tea and more recently coffee and chocolate (mmmm, chocolate!) have been found to contain antioxidants! Yes, you heard that right! Antioxidants appear to have health benefits particularly in the area of heart health and cancer FYI: As one who suffers from asthma, I know firsthand that caffeine has long been known to help asthma sufferers.
So dear readers, I think we can safely assume that drinking a cup of coffee, having a chai latte, drinking an energy drink or eating a bar of chocolate is NOT something to feel guilty about. As with everything in life, moderation Is key.
What is a "moderate" intake of caffeine
A moderate intake of caffeine for an adult is about 300 mg a day. I've included the average amount of caffeine per serving of the following:
Average amount per serving
Caffeine Per 8 oz Cup (amount of caffeine varies due to steep time and quanitity of tea used)
White Tea 30-55 mg
Green Tea 35-70 mg
Oolong Tea 50-75 mg
Black Tea 50-90 mg
Instant coffee 75mg per 190ml cup
Brewed coffee 85mg per 190ml cup
Energy drink 28-87mg per 250ml glass
Cola drinks (diet or regular) 8- 53 mg per 250 ml glass
Some soft drinks 24mg per 250ml glass
Chocolate 5.5 - 35.5 mg per 50g bar
Then of course there is many herbal teas and Rooibos which are free from caffeine.
With all that being said, I’m off to enjoy a lovely chai latte with our delectable Lonestar Chai. GUILT FREE!
American Cancer Society Medical and Scientific Committee. Guidelines on diet, nutrition and cancer. Cancer J. for Clinicians, 41(6):334-8,1996.
The European Food Information Council 2015