Coffee: Brimming with Health Benefits? (cont.)

Beyond Caffeine, Calories Count

It amazes me how many people at Starbucks and other coffee houses order the high-calorie special coffees, laden with whipped cream, flavored syrups, and/or cream. Those add-ons can take a zero-calorie cup of coffee and turn it into more than a meal's worth -- as much as 570 calories per cup.

Here's the rundown for a few common coffee additions:

  • 2 tablespoons of flavored liquid nondairy creamer = 80 calories and 4 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon of plain liquid nondairy creamer = 25 calories, 2 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon half-and-half = 20 calories, 2 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon cream = 50 calories, 6 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon whipped cream = 90 calories, 9 g fat.
  • A drizzle of Starbucks caramel syrup = 25 calories.
  • 2 tablespoons flavored syrup = 80 calories, no fat.
  • 2 pumps of flavored sugar-free syrup = 0 calories.
  • 2 tablespoons malt = 90 calories, 2 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon mocha syrup = 25 calories, .5 g fat.
  • 1 tablespoon sugar = 15 calories.

The next time you order your favorite joe, try it black or with nonfat milk and/or artificial sweeteners to get the health benefits without the extra calories.

Play It Safe

Researchers are cautious about making public health claims. But it certainly appears safe to keep drinking that delicious, aromatic, pick-me-up cup or two of coffee each day.

Just be sure to keep your intake moderate, to be on the safe side. If you experience palpitations, a rapid heartbeat or any symptoms associated with caffeine overload, talk to your doctor about your coffee intake. The same goes if you're pregnant, nursing, or have high blood pressure, heart disease, or osteoporosis.

Originally published March 30, 2006.
Medically updated May 7, 2008.

SOURCES: American Chemical Society Meeting and Exposition, Washington, Aug. 27-Sept. 1, 2005. News release, American Chemical Society. WebMD feature, How to Drink Coffee. WebMD feature: "Coffee: The New Health Food?" WebMD Medical News: "Can Coffee Protect Against Common Cancers?" WebMD Medical News: "Caffeine Fuels Most Energy Drinks." Tomas DePaulis, PhD, research scientist, Vanderbilt University's Institute for Coffee Studies; research assistant professor of psychiatry, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD and the WebMD Weight Loss Clinic. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.

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