Dismissing Misconceptions about Your Favourite Brew
Coffee often gets bad press. Statements like it is addictive and bad for your heart are two common misconceptions that are often bandied about. But is there any basis for such statements?
That’s what we set out to explore. In a true myth-busting style, we will look at some of the common misconceptions that surround this wonderful drink. Additionally, we will explore one coffee fact that isn’t a myth- That drunk in moderation, there are potential health benefits to a daily cup or two of your favourite brew!
Let’s check out some of the myths. Coffee cup in hand? Let’s get cracking!
There are many coffee myths to explore, too many to cover them all. So, we have pruned the list down to include the most common misconceptions. These are often quoted without any hard facts to support them.
Here are some of the most often-quoted misconceptions about coffee.
The origins of this myth can be traced to the fact that caffeine is a mild diuretic. The important word here is mild. Whilst drinking coffee will increase your trips to the bathroom, the amount of fluid lost through drinking coffee is negligible and is easily offset by the liquid in the coffee.
In other words, coffee won’t dehydrate you, but it won’t hydrate you as much as non-caffeinated fluid will.
There is still much discussion about this, and let’s start by stating that adding lots of cream and sugar to your coffee may well be bad for your heart.
However, there are studies suggesting that modest coffee consumption can actually be good for your heart. For example, one study found that drinking 2-4 cups of coffee per day was associated with a lower risk of heart failure in both men and women.
Coffee is a stimulant, and this means it can have a potentially mild effect on your heart rate. But “everything in moderation” is the key here. A modest intake of coffee is not bad for the heart and, indeed, may be beneficial.
It is important to note, though, that individuals react to caffeine differently, and if you have any doubt about medical matters, you should talk to your doctor.
This could be true if you take a shot or two of strong espresso just before you head off to bed. But if you take a sensible approach to your coffee intake, then it won’t affect your sleep patterns.
Generally, it’s recommended that you avoid consuming caffeine at least 6 hours before bed to ensure that it has been metabolized by your body.
It’s also important to remember that everyone’s body responds differently to caffeine, so it’s a good idea to pay attention to your own reactions. Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine and may need to cut back on their coffee consumption or avoid it altogether in the evening.
Overall, if you’re mindful of the amount and timing of your coffee intake, it’s unlikely that it will affect your sleep patterns.
Like all good myths, there is an element of truth that lies at the heart of them. In this case, the stimulant effects of coffee can mean that people experience mild withdrawal symptoms without their daily dose.
However, these are mild and short-lived, some common effects include:
Caffeine, when compared to drugs like nicotine, does not produce a strong physical dependence. That being said, regular coffee drinkers deprived of their morning brew often show signs of mild psychological dependence. Again, the symptoms are slight and short-lasting.
Decaffeinated coffee would be better described as “low-caffeine coffee”. The US Food and Drug Administration classifies decaffeinated coffee as any coffee that contains less than 2.5% caffeine by weight.
A normal cup of coffee can contain anything between 50 to 400mg of caffeine, depending on the size of the cup and the blend of coffee. By comparison, a typical-sized cup of decaffeinated coffee will contain about 7mg of caffeine.
Overall, while decaffeinated coffee is lower in caffeine content than regular coffee, it’s not 100% caffeine-free. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or trying to avoid it altogether, it’s important to be aware of the caffeine content in decaf coffee and to choose your beverages accordingly.
The roasting process does affect the caffeine content of your favourite brew. But this isn’t as pronounced as you may suppose. In fact, some studies have suggested that light roasts may contain more caffeine than dark roasts. But the difference is usually less than 1%. It’s also worth noting that the caffeine content of coffee can vary widely depending on factors such as the type of bean, the brewing method, and the serving size.
Overall, while it’s true that the roasting process can affect the caffeine content of coffee beans to some extent, the difference between light and dark roasts is not significant enough to make a noticeable difference in your caffeine intake.
Espresso is a short, concentrated “caffeine blast” that has a thicker consistency and more potent taste than a typical cup of coffee. However, it should be remembered that the basis of many popular coffee drinks is a shot of espresso!
What this means is that a cup of coffee contains more or less the same caffeine as a single espresso shot. In fact, many typical coffee beverages will contain higher caffeine levels than an espresso.
The first point of note here is that in any circumstances, it is probably not a good idea to let children loose with an espresso machine! That being said, one side-effect that they probably won’t suffer from is a slowing down of their growth.
This myth originates from the fact that caffeine can reduce calcium absorption. Again, like many of the myths we have covered, this is true up to some point. The levels we are talking about are not enough to have any effect on a child’s growth. However, the other effects of caffeine are amplified in smaller bodies, so caution is required for children and adolescents when it comes to coffee drinking.
Good things come to those that wait!
Coffee – Drink Up and Enjoy
Coffee, like most things in life, is perfectly safe and enjoyable if taken in moderation. Indeed, it may be beneficial to your health. While there is still debate about this, what there isn’t any serious debate about is whether coffee is bad for us in any significant way.
As long as you don’t go overboard with your consumption, you can enjoy your daily brew safe in the knowledge that you won’t dehydrate, lie awake all night, and become a raging addict.
So, the truth is that when consumed in moderation, coffee can be a delicious and healthy addition to your daily routine.