The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans specifically addressed caffeine intake in the form of coffee. Luckily for avid coffee drinkers, it turns out that three to five, 8 fl oz cups per day was shown to be safe. But the catch? Those three to five cups of coffee must be equivalent to 400mg of caffeine.
Note: These recommendations are for healthy adults, not children, teens, pregnant or lactating women, or those with a chronic condition that may make them more sensitive to caffeine. Whew – got it?
Some methods for brewing coffee result in a higher caffeine content, so you can’t be guaranteed that your cups is within this range.
What Does the Research Show?
Some studies have shown that moderate intake of coffee may be protective against cardiovascular disease. Other studies have shown that drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
And, since coffee is a source of antioxidants, those antioxidants can play a role in the reduction of chronic inflammation which can be protective against certain chronic diseases. So, if you are a coffee drinker then there is a lot of celebrate!
Does Caffeine Cause Dehydration?
Yes and no.
Up to 400mg of caffeine (or approximately 4 cups of coffee brewed with 100mg caffeine each) will not contribute to dehydration. This can put your mind at ease for reaching for a cup of freshly brewed coffee first thing in the morning instead of a glass of water (although hydrating with water is a must!).
Anything beyond 400-500mg of caffeine has the potential to have a diuretic effect which can contribute to dehydration. This is one great excuse to double-fist (coffee and water, of course) before 9am.
Sugar, Fat, and Everything Else Added to Your Coffee
The basics are this: choose a beverage that tastes good to you and that you enjoy, but with as little added sugar and saturated fat as possible.
Many of the national coffee chains have coffee beverages with extreme amounts of added sugar which puts them well beyond the amount found in a typical soda. For example, one Venti Iced Caramel Frappucino at Starbucks has 57g of sugar, the majority of which are added. If you compare that to the fact that women should be aiming for no more than 24g of added sugar per day and men no more than 36g that is well over the mark in your morning beverage alone.
Beverages with added saturated fat should also be considered in the total amount of saturated fat to be eaten throughout the day. That same beverage contains 10g of saturated fat if prepared with whole milk which is about half of the daily recommended intake.
The bottom line: enjoy your coffee, but do so without the additives. Just find a good cup of coffee and I promise you won’t need all the sugar and saturated fat!
This article originally appeared on the FLIK blog.