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Is coffee healthy?

People sometimes talk about coffee as if it’s their ‘vice’…something naughty that might not be the best for them. But is there any truth to that classification? Is coffee ‘bad’ for you?

It turns out, there are actually plenty of good things to say about coffee. And just to be fair, I’ll also discuss some potential downfalls.

I do want to preface this post by saying that when I say coffee, I mean literally just coffee. Not a mocha cookie crumble frappe whatever whatever…(no shade Starbucks). Also, these aren’t fully exhaustive lists…there may be other pros and cons but I just wanted to highlight the ones that are likely to be most applicable to you.

Without further ado, here are 5 benefits of drinking coffee:

  1. Coffee is rich in antioxidants. With the typical North American diet, people actually get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits or vegetables.

  2. Coffee can improve reaction time, cognitive function, and mood. The caffeine in coffee acts as a stimulant and is probably the main reason most of us like drinking it in the first place. It makes us feel more alert, happy, and productive!

  3. Coffee can also improve exercise performance. Caffeine is actually a component of most pre-workout supplements and can acutely improve strength and endurance during your workout.

  4. Moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. We don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee consumption and protection against cognitive decline in old age, but this association is promising.

  5. It may also lower risk for type 2 diabetes.

Of course, like with anything, there are negative effects to consider as well. Here are 5 cons of drinking coffee:

  1. Excessive coffee or caffeine consumption can lead to anxiety, jitteriness, and/or heart palpitations. I feel like many of us have probably experienced this effect at least once, especially when we first started drinking coffee.

  2. Coffee can disrupt sleep quality. Since caffeine is a stimulant, having coffee in the afternoon or evening can certainly make it difficult to get good quality sleep at night.

  3. It can increase blood pressure. High blood pressure is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

  4. It may act as a diuretic. However, coffee’s diuretic effect seems to be mild and not enough to actually be dehydrating.

  5. Coffee is addictive. I think we already knew this one; once coffee has become a part of your routine, it’s hard to imagine a day without it! Abstaining from coffee can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, tiredness, and irritability.

So, now knowing some of the pros and cons, the question is whether or not we should be drinking coffee.

Like most things in nutrition and health, the answer is nuanced and unique to the individual.

Evidence suggests that if you’re a healthy adult, a moderate amount of coffee (2-3 cups/day) should pose no harm and may even provide some health benefits. However, if you have some underlying health conditions or other concerns, please speak to your doctor or Registered Dietitian!

If you are a regular coffee drinker, here are 3 tips to making your next coffee drink more nourishing:

  1. Opt for less or no sugar

  2. If using a nut or soy milk beverage, choose one that is fortified with calcium/vitamin D (all dairy milk in Canada is required to be fortified)

  3. Avoid drinking coffee past 2pm, so as to not interfere with your sleep quality

Stay nourished my friends,


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