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12 Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee You Should Know

Coffee is a beverage that people either love or hate. There are deeply passionate coffee aficionados, and there are folks who cannot stand the taste or smell of coffee. Whatever the case may be, the truth is that coffee can have some fascinating effects on our health and has its benefits and drawbacks. 

Here is a summary on the pros and cons of drinking coffee: 

The ProsThe Cons
Increased physical performance Caffeine dependency or addiction 
Enhanced mental focus Caffeine crash 
Can help burn fat & lose weight Bad breath 
Reduced risk of certain cancersThe jitters & restlessness 
Contains powerful antioxidants Anxiousness or prolonged anxiety
Can help with medical conditions like Diabetes & Parkinson’s diseaseDifficulty sleeping or insomnia

Knowing more about the effects of coffee can help you figure out what side of the fence you are on. You might just pick up a coffee habit! Or you may end up switching it out for another beverage. Keep on reading to get some detailed answers to all your coffee curiosities.

The Pros of Drinking Coffee

Due to coffee’s timeless popularity and massive consumption all throughout the globe, there has been a lot of scientific research that has focused on the advantages and disadvantages of the classic morning (or late afternoon) pick-me-up. Let’s start with the positives of that cuppa’ joe:

latte or Cappuccino with frothy foam, coffee cup top view on table in cafe, pros and cons of drinking coffee

Increased Physical Performance

Coffee’s most notable chemical compound is caffeine. And caffeine can directly improve your physical performance and endurance. If you are considering going to the gym or heading out for a run, try indulging in a cup of coffee beforehand.

Enhanced Mental Focus

Caffeine also has the ability to boost your mental focus and alertness. It’s a popular beverage for students or for people whose job requires a lot of focus. Plus, it can reduce sleepiness which is why it’s a popular morning drink. 

Can Help Reduce Cravings and Burn Fat 

In the short term, coffee can increase blood sugar (glucose) levels. In the long run, however, it actually helps regulate glucose, which may help you curb your craving for sugary snacks. Some studies show that the caffeine in beverages like coffee can even offset a not-so-healthy diet. And when you are exercising, the caffeine in coffee has been related to faster fat burning

Reduce Risk of Some Cancers

Coffee is a powerful drink related to reducing the risk of cancers in the colon. It also has the ability to lower estrogen levels which is related to some cancers. Lastly, coffee lowers inflammation which is a common risk factor in all types of cancer.

Contains Powerful Antioxidants

 Antioxidants are substances in your body that prevent your cells from free radicals, which have an impact on your body’s development of cancers and other diseases. Coffee contains several powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and protect your cells. 

electrons from antioxidant reacting to reduce free radicals, pros and cons of drinking coffee

Can Help with Diseases Like Diabetes and Parkinson’s 

Studies have shown that long-term coffee drinkers have a reduced risk of developing type-II diabetes than non-drinkers due to coffee’s ability to improve the effectiveness of glucose in the body.

Parkinson’s disease is largely related to low dopamine levels in the brain. Coffee has been shown to protect the cells in the brain responsible for producing dopamine, therefore protecting against neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s. 

The Cons of Drinking Coffee

Whether you are a committed coffee consumer or a skeptic of the mighty bean, you are sure to find the following lists of not-so-positive to be very intriguing. 

Caffeine Dependency and Addiction

Caffeine is a stimulant that causes dependency, and eventually, addiction. When the body has become addicted to caffeine, it could experience withdrawals when caffeine isn’t regularly consumed. Common symptoms could be headache, fatigue, and nausea. 

Caffeine Crash

What goes up must come down. Because coffee stimulates the body and mind, it only makes sense that the effects would come to an end sometimes. Coming down from caffeine has been described as a crash and can result in fatigue and sleepiness when your body is no longer energized. 

Bad Breath

Coffee is notorious for leading to bad breath. Coffee by itself already has a strong flavor. As such, it also has a strong odor. Coffee also is known to limit saliva production in the mouth after consumption. With decreased saliva, there is often an increase in odor-causing bacteria.

The Jitters and Restlessness

Caffeine is a strong chemical that should be consumed in moderation. Consuming too much caffeine from coffee can result in experiencing the jitters or a general state of uncomfortable restlessness. 

Acute Anxiousness and Prolonged Anxiety

If a person is prone to anxiety, consuming too much caffeine can also exacerbate their feelings of anxiousness. Consuming too much caffeine can also contribute to panic attacks. Oftentimes, it can occur from the uncomfortable sensations one perceives from one heart beating too fast. 

Difficulty Sleeping or Insomnia

Heavy caffeine consumption has been associated with insomnia and increased daytime sleepiness. Due to the energizing effects of caffeine, it can be difficult to wind down and get to bed after a day of heavy caffeine consumption. For some who are highly sensitive to caffeine, even consuming just a little can lead to the inability to fall asleep when desired. 

The Verdict: Pros and Cons of Drinking Coffee

In many ways, coffee is, and has been, an important cultural facet in many societies.  However, choosing to drink coffee or not is very much a personal decision. There are many pros and cons to consider. And depending on your health profile, coffee may or may not agree with you and your system. It’s just a matter of finding out what works for you and sticking to it.  

Light Roast vs. Dark Roast, Which is Healthier?

4 different roasted coffee beans from green beans on the left to dark roast on the right, pros and cons of drinking coffee

In order to make coffee beans usable for brewing, they go through a roasting process that transforms them from a raw ingredient. It is during that process that many of the flavors and chemical ingredients are activated inside the beans themselves. 

And depending on the duration of the roast, you either end up with a light roast, dark roast, or somewhere in between.

It is a common misconception that light roast coffees contain higher levels of caffeine. It’s also not true that a shorter roasting process “cooks off” less of the caffeine.

However, that is a myth. While light and dark roast coffee will have a different flavor profile, body, and mouthfeel, the “strength” of the caffeine is just about the same in each cup. 

Roast Doesn’t Determine Strength – Measurement Does

The caffeine levels in coffee are more so related to how much coffee you brew. If you want more caffeine, scoop more into your French press or drip coffee maker. 

  • To reap the benefits of caffeine, brew larger amounts of coffee. More coffee means more caffeine if you want to boost physical performance or enhance mental focus and alertness.
  • To minimize the negative consequences of caffeine, use less coffee. To skip the jitters and restlessness, or if you experience anxiety or are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to avoid triggering these feelings with high caffeine consumption.

But remember those antioxidants we talked about earlier? Well, studies have shown that there is a difference in antioxidants between light and dark roast coffees.

A Light Roast Coffee May Have More Antioxidants 

Light roast coffees tend to have higher levels of antioxidants, for example, chlorogenic acid. This chemical ingredient has been linked to various health benefits such as:

  • Glucose regulation helpful for type-II diabetes
  • DNA protective effects
  • Neuroprotective effects
  • Liver protection
  • Suppressive effect on hepatitis B

So, if you boil it down, both light and dark roast coffees will contain many of the health benefits listed in the table above, generally speaking.

But, if you are specifically looking for the nutritional benefits of incorporating more antioxidants into your diet, then light roast is the better choice. 

If you are curious about more ways to make your coffee healthier, whether it be a light or dark roast, check out the list below. 

Does Coffee Cause Ulcers?

You may hear some people say that coffee “is too acidic” or that coffee irritates their ulcer. While certain coffees can have a more acidic flavor and coffee is able to be measured on the pH scale, coffee really isn’t all that “acidic” in terms of corrosive activity. 

In fact, brewed coffee is less acidic than orange juice or beer and just slightly more acidic than cow’s milk, according to this chart.  

The acidity in coffee is mostly “perceived.” There is no scientific relationship between coffee drinking and dyspepsia.  However, coffee does stimulate acid secretion in the body, and it can also have a laxative effect on some people. 

Further studies regarding the gastrointestinal effects of coffee continue because there are always other variables in test subjects: body weight, overall health, other habits that may in play. You know your body. If you feel coffee hurts your stomach or causes you gastric distress, then it’s time to cut the habit or change it up a bit. 

Does Coffee Help You Lose Weight?

As mentioned above, coffee can help reduce cravings, and caffeine can boost metabolism a bit to help burn more body fat. Research conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found up to a 4% decrease in body fat in their subjects. 

Now, that all depends on what you put into your coffee. A caffeine boost to your metabolism won’t matter if you’re adding sugar, sugary syrups, or fat-heavy milk or cream. 

How Much Coffee is Too Much?

In order to avoid the negative effects of consuming too much coffee, it is crucial to know how much is too much. For the most part, this is a personal question. Only you will know how much coffee you should be drinking based on how you know it affects your body and mind. 

However, there is a lot of science that shows that consuming up to 8-ounces of coffee on a daily basis is perfectly healthy. This equates to about 400 mg of caffeine a day. At this rate, one can avoid the adverse effects of caffeine overconsumption. 

To find your personal limit, it is recommended to experiment with your coffee consumption. You can try to brew different types of coffee and varying quantities. Take note of how it makes you feel afterward. 

If you enjoyed how the coffee and caffeine made you feel, then you might consider keeping your process the same. If you noticed uncomfortable sensations or disliked how you felt after drinking coffee, then maybe consider brewing with a smaller quantity of coffee, drinking less, or eliminating the drink from your diet completely. 

Should Pregnant Women Drink Coffee? 

It is perfectly fine for pregnant women to drink coffee. However, experts do recommend that pregnant women should consume less than the normal population. The main reasons for this include some of those cons we talked about earlier. And it’s all due to the caffeine:

  • Caffeine is a stimulant – So it can increase blood pressure and heart rate
  • Caffeine is a diuretic – Which means it can lead to dehydration
  • Caffeine crosses through the placenta – It does get to your baby

While studies don’t show fully conclusive evidence on whether high caffeine consumption increases the chance of miscarriage or low birth weight, it does get studied, meaning there is potential for risk. So, most obstetricians recommend moderate caffeine intake

If 400-mg of caffeine, or 8-ounces of coffee, is the recommended serving size for most people, experts suggest that pregnant women should consume no more than 300-mg per day.

As for nursing mothers and coffee intake, again, moderation is key, especially in the early months. But even La Leche League states that 2-3 cups of coffee, or 300 mg of caffeine a day, are a safe and moderate level. That is, of course, as long as no ill effects are noticed on the nursing baby. 

Why Kids Shouldn’t Drink Coffee

Most doctors recommend limiting coffee and caffeine intake in children. Especially in younger children. That includes colas, black teas, and, of course, coffee. But with all of those great health benefits, why restrict a child’s coffee intake?

Kids shouldn’t drink coffee largely because the bodies and minds of children are developing on a daily basis, and the effects of caffeine on that development are largely unknown. 

It is pretty safe to say, however, that many of the cons of consuming coffee, like increased anxiety and insomnia, could also impact younger consumers. With that being said, there are some guidelines for caffeine consumption in children: 

  • Ages 4 – 6: 45 mg (about a half cup of coffee)
  • Ages 7 – 9: 62.5 mg
  • Ages 10 – 12: 85 mg
  • Adolescents: 85 – 100 mg

Whether a child drinks coffee is up to their guardian. But if it’s caffeine you are trying to avoid, then don’t forget that it can be found in other places, like soda-pop, tea, and other sports and energy drinks. Many of which are already being consumed by kids on a daily basis.

Tips to Make Your Coffee Healthier 

If you love your coffee and enjoy the positive benefits but also want to decrease your chance of the drawbacks of caffeine consumption, here are some great ways to help make your daily coffee healthier:

  • Reduce usage of milk: Using cream or milk in coffee will increase the caloric value of your coffee beverage. If you find a type of coffee you enjoy, try it without extra dairy products. You might be surprised! You can also try non-dairy creamers like almond, soy, or oat milk.
  • Reduce usage of sweeteners: Over-sweetening coffee is a common culprit for introducing highly processed and unnecessary sugars into your daily diet. Try coffee with less sugar (or none). You can also try natural sweeteners like honey or stevia leaf extract.
     
  • Set a limit for caffeine sensitivity: The benefits of coffee can only be enjoyed if you do not go overboard. The negative impacts from consuming too much coffee, and therefore consuming too much caffeine can make the whole experience not worth it. Maybe even try decaffeinated coffee or going half-caf.
  • Add mushroom powder: A popular way to customize your coffee and increase its nutritional value is by using dehydrated mushroom powder. Mushrooms are powerful food items that possess loads of vitamins ad antioxidants, like ergothioneine.
  • Add cinnamon: Cinnamon is a classically delicious addition to almost any coffee beverage. Besides tasting and smelling great, it is known that cinnamon is jam-packed with antioxidants, can have anti-inflammatory properties, and help fight disease.
  • Add cocoa powder: Cocoa powder can be another powerful additive to your coffee. Cafe-mochas are popular coffeehouse drinks that combine coffee and cocoa powder but with tons of added artificial sweeteners. You can skip the sweeteners at home and still enjoy the health benefits like immune regulation, neuroprotective qualities, and diabetes control. 

Making your coffee healthier is a fantastic way to add nutritional value to one of your favorite drinks. However, don’t forget that over-consuming coffee can lead to negative side effects. 

Summary

Coffee is a popular beverage and a cultural component of many diets all across the globe, especially in the United States. Many people enjoy the drink for the positive impacts it has on their body and mind. 

Coffee, and its most popular chemical compound, caffeine, has many positive health and lifestyle benefits. But it does have its negative impacts, which are largely related to caffeine overconsumption. 

Like most things, there are pros and cons to drinking coffee. Whether one indulges in the drink or chooses not to will vary from person to person. Nonetheless, we hope that this article taught you something new about coffee and helped inform your decision-making.