Is Coffee a Health Food?

Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
Is coffee a health food?
A daily cup of coffee may exert a preventive effect against multiple illnesses in long run.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages. The major reason for its popularity is its caffeine content, which is a stimulant that peps up your mornings and helps you stay alert throughout the day.

Though past studies have talked more about the negative aspects of coffee, such as worsening gastroesophageal reflux, recent studies hint at it being a healthy beverage. A reasonable amount of coffee seems to be a healthy addition to your daily diet because it contains multiple antioxidants or anti-inflammatory agents.

What are the positive health effects of coffee?

A daily cup of coffee may exert a preventive effect against multiple illnesses in long run, including:

You can derive other nutritional benefits from coffee. If combined with a cup of fat-free, low-fat dairy or fortified soy milk, you can improve your calcium and vitamin D levels.

What are the side effects of drinking excess coffee?

Though it is healthy to drink coffee daily, it is necessary to consume it in moderation. Many people get addicted to it and go overboard by drinking more than four cups every day.

When consumed in excess (more than 400 mg per day), coffee can cause side effects, including:

  • Frequent trips to the washroom
  • Dehydration
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Increased anxiety levels
  • Muscle tremors (feeling shaky)
  • Pounding heart
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Increased bone loss in post-menopausal women (if their diets are low in calcium)

Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding need to limit their caffeine intake to 200 mg a day. Besides, people who suffer from heartburn or acid reflux should either drink coffee in very little quantities or quit it completely. Coffee can trigger such conditions.

If you are on medications, ask your doctor if any of the medications interact with coffee. Some drugs, such as ephedrine (used in decongestants), are known to increase your blood pressure and the risk of getting a stroke if taken along with coffee.


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3 ways to break your coffee addiction

If you are facing problems due to excess coffee drinking, you need to slow down a little. You may have a coffee addiction, which you need to break. Here are some tips that can help you overcome the addiction.

  1. Do not rush; take it slow
    • Reduce the amount of coffee you consume in a day gradually. For example, instead of 10 cups, drink eight cups first for a few days, followed by six cups for the next few days, four cups a day, and so on. Do not stop drinking coffee all at once.
    • If you are a habitual coffee drinker, abruptly kicking the habit might cause withdrawal symptoms, such as severe headache, restlessness, and anxiety.
  2. Choose water as a substitute
    • If your hand reaches out to the fifth cup of coffee, drink water instead. Water naturally flushes caffeine from your body and prevents dehydration from coffee.
  3. Try switching to decaf
    • Start having a mixture of decaffeinated coffee and regular coffee.
    • Keep decreasing the amount of regular coffee and increasing the amount of decaffeinated coffee daily.
    • Then, as your body slowly adapts to the reduced caffeine intake, stop drinking the caffeinated coffee and switch completely to the decaffeinated coffee.

You should keep a watch on the amount of other caffeinated foods or beverages that you have during the day. These include tea, chocolate, and energy drinks. Some medications that keep you alert contain caffeine.

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Medically Reviewed on 5/5/2022
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Harvard T.H. Chan. Is coffee good or bad for your health?