Fact or Fiction?

The Answers to Your Coffee Health Questions

coffee-in-bed

In the world of food, items come and go with their claims as the worst foods and best foods in a blink of an eye and then switch back on you just as soon as you've changed your diet up accordingly. Same happens with coffee. Causes cancer? Prevents cancer? Great tool for exercise? Causes you to crash and burn? Whatever coffee-related question you want to Google, you can find an answer for it and then find just the opposite somewhere else. Since we were frustrated, we figured you probably were too, so we're here to answer some of the top myths/facts about coffee once and for all.

1. Coffee Improves Exercise?

True. According to BBC news, recent studies showed that even small amounts of caffeine allowed athletes to exercise nearly a third longer. Not only does it give an energy boost that can enable many to feel up to exercising, it can delay the feeling of fatigue up to 60%. And, not only can one exercise more intensely and for longer periods of time, studies have also shown that the caffeine in coffee triggers the muscles in your body to use your stored fat as their source of energy, rather than carbohydrate sugars.

2. Pregnant Women Should Never Drink Coffee?

False. Though it is true that women should not drink excessive amounts of coffee (caffeine) while pregnant, recent studies confirmed that there are no harmful effects of drinking moderate amounts of coffee while pregnant, moderate defined as under 200 mg. of caffeine per day. When consuming over this amount, the risk for miscarriage drastically increases.

3. Coffee can Prevent Cancer?

Possibly. Today.com brought to light a study by Rutger's University showing a correlation between exercise and caffeine as increasing the destruction of pre-cancerous cells. Currently this has still only been tested on animals, but it will be tested on humans in the future.

4. Coffee can Reduce Risk of Cardiovascular Disease?

Tough to say - yet. While studies do show that a regular intake of caffeine is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, studies also show that drinking caffeinated coffee can actually increase heart attack and stroke risk in those who already have heart disease. The American Heart Association's current stance is that the association between health risk and caffeine is conflicting, but that one to two cups a day "doesn't seem to be harmful."

5. Energy Drinks Have the Highest Levels of Caffeine and Highest Impact on Energy?

False. If you're in desperate need of a caffeine jolt, you should probably think coffee before Mountain Dew or even Red Bull. One 6 oz. cup of drip bold coffee can contain anywhere between 140 to 200 mg. of caffeine. A 16 oz. cup of Starbucks drip coffee contains around 320 mg. An 8 oz. serving of Mountain Dew has just 37 mg, a Pepsi has 69 mg. And, even more surprising, an 8.4 oz Red Bull has just 80 mg. A Monster Energy has 160 mg. in 16 oz, over two times the quantity of coffee you'd need to drink for the same effect.

6. Coffee Can Cause Ulcers?

False. While it's true that drinking coffee increases the levels of acid within the stomach, especially when it's consumed on an empty stomach, ulcers are actually caused by bacterial infections. If you already have an ulcer, coffee can irritate it and make it worse, but it will not cause one.

7. Coffee Can Improve Memory?

True. Back in 2005, Austrian scientists showed that drinking regular caffeine coffee improved memory temporarily. When given approximately two cups of coffee, participants in the study had increased brain activity in the "memory rich frontal lobe." Two years later in 2007, the Academy of Neurology stated that there were prolonged memory improvements due to coffee, particularly in women.

8. Coffee is a Good Source of Antioxidants?

True. In fact, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the entire American diet. Joe A. Vinson of the University of Scranton compiled a study that concluded an average American adult consumes 1,299 mg. of antioxidants on a daily basis from their coffee. Surprisingly, tea, a drink toted for its antioxidant properties came in as the runner up at just 294 milligrams. The next five sources? Bananas: 76 mg; dry beans: 72 mg. and corn: 48 mg.

9. Coffee Can Reduce Gallstone Risk?

True. A 2002 Harvard study showed that women who drank a minimum of 4 cups of coffee a day were up to 25% less likely to require surgery for gallstones than those who didn't drink any. The theory is that caffeine triggers more gallbladder contractions, therefore reducing the chance for stones to form.

10. Coffee Can Reduce Soreness After Exercise?

True. Studies have determined that drinking caffeinated coffee prior to exercise can significantly reduce muscle pain following exercise. While the reason is not yet conclusively determined it seems that caffeine affects a system in the brain and spinal cord that's involved in the body's manner of processing pain.

Sources:
Bastyr Center for Natural Health. bastyrcenter.org. Retrieved: 3 May, 2011.
Dr. Weil. www.drweil.com. Retrieved: 3 May, 2011.
Joe Vinson, PhD, professor, department of chemistry, University of Scranton, Scranton, Pa. American Heart Association web site: "AHA Recommendations on Caffeine."
MSNBC. www.msnbc.msn.com. Retrieved: 3 May, 2011.
WebMD. www.webmd.com. Retrieved: 3 May, 2011.