For many of us, coffee is an absolute must. Without that deep, dark chocolatey goodness there is no way you would make it through the endless hours of school. How on earth is one expected to get up at 6am and still be awake by the time history rolls around at 2pm? Yawn. Never mind the several hours of homework waiting for you at the end of the school day. Good bean juice taste like chocolate make me go fast!!!
It’s possible that whenever you reach for that first cup of coffee (or third, or fourth…) there’s a tiny voice in your head asking if it’s actually good for you. Since coffee is such a staple in most of our lives, I decided to set the record straight once and for all.
Keep reading for the final verdict on all your coffee questions.
The bottom line is yes…with one exception.
Yes, having two cups of coffee or less per day is generally healthy for the average gal. According to FitnessGenes CEO and Co-Founder Dan Reardon, M.D., “there is strong evidence of coffee being connected to better cognitive function and mental stimulation”. I mean, obviously, there’s a reason we’re drinking it every morning before school.
In addition, studies from the Mayo Clinic show that coffee is very high in antioxidants, which researchers believe reduce inflammation, and protect you against various diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. While coffee has often been negatively associated with health risks such as cancer, Donald Hensrud M.D. from the Mayo Clinic says that recent studies have actually found no connection between coffee and a risk in cancer or heart disease (tgod).
The Exception: The true health benefits of coffee, however, depend on whether you metabolize it quickly, or slowly.
The easiest way to find out how quickly your body metabolizes coffee, is to pay attention the next time you drink your morning latte. If you feel a buzz immediately after finishing your Grande caramel macchiato, it means that you metabolize it quickly. If it takes a little while to kick in, you metabolize it slowly.
If you’re a fast metabolizer, drinking two or more cups of coffee a day is likely to help protect from disease, improve heart health, and lower inflammation. In addition, it is less likely to mess with your sleep cycles and won’t cause as many stomach aches.
If you’re a slow metabolizer, on the other hand, researchers have found that those who metabolize slowly may experience an increase in heart disease risk if they’re drinking more than two cups a day.
Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to your body and understand how you’re reacting to the coffee.
Research shows that the golden number is two– two cups of coffee per day. Any more, and you risk messing with digestion and sleep, never mind potentially increasing anxiety if you suffer from anxiety or high-stress. I suffer from an anxiety disorder, and I had to learn that coffee is not my friend. Even a grande vanilla latte leaves me feeling jittery and nervous, so I stick to matcha.
If you metabolize coffee quickly, you can drink up to five (five!) cups a day and likely not feel any adverse effects. If you metabolize slowly, however, you should try to stick with just one.
An important fact to remember though, is that the more coffee you drink, the less effective it becomes. Most of you have probably experienced the lull that occurs when your morning latte no longer does the trick. If that’s the case, it might be time to take a step back, and try taking a little coffee detox. Going even a week or two without coffee can help reset your system and allow you to feel the caffeine effect full-force.
When I told my BFF in LA that I pay $6 for a latte from my favorite NYC neighborhood coffee shop, she almost spit her own coffee out. I swear that it’s worth it, and science seems to agree with me. Dr. Reardon firmly believes that not all beans are created equal—and paying for better beans is worth it. They don’t call Starbucks, “Sixbucks”, for nothing. A cheaper coffee bean may be polluted with pesticides and fungi infection, which negatively affect the bean, and definitely aren’t what you want in your body. Yuck.
Therefore, to make sure your bod (and brain!) are getting the good stuff, go for organic, high-quality beans. It’s also important to support healthful, well-full labor practices, so try to use only fair-trade sources of coffee. The higher-quality the bean, the less chance of ingesting harmful chemicals and toxins.
Unfortunately, I’m about to hit you with some sad truth. Learning that coffee can be, in fact, good for you, is not an excuse to run to your closest Starbucks and grab a peppermint mocha or caramel macchiato. The truth is, pouring in artificial creams and sugars pretty much cancels out any of the health benefits of the drink you’re having. Often, flavored drinks like lattes, frappucinos and other coffee beverages can be loaded with unnecessary sugars. Try making your own at home or replacing added sugar with honey. If you’re at Starbucks, ask for a sugar-free syrup. In addition, skip the cream and try substituting your regular milk for alternative nut ‘mylks’. Nut milks will have less sugar and fewer calories. Plus, they’re great for those of us who have allergies.
The most important lesson is to listen to your body. If your body isn’t feeling it, try these healthy alternatives to get your morning started!