Not only has the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee backed away from its decades-long warning about cholesterol (see Geoffrey Norman elsewhere in this issue), but it has also finally spoken out on a subject of vital importance to The Scrapbook: coffee consumption.
“Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals,” the committee reports. “In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between coffee/caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease.”
But before we brew ourselves another pot of coffee, let us keep in mind that Americans drink on average two cups of coffee a day. Upping our dosage to five might just have us bouncing off the walls, having palpitations, or worse. As the Washington Post points out, “due to its high caffeine content, brewed coffee may always be a source of insomnia, irritability, acid reflux and other negative side effects for others, especially those with underlying conditions, such as anxiety disorder or heart disease.”
In an earlier Post writeup, we are told that coffee “has been linked to a lower risk of depression” but is “also a top source of acrylamide, a chemical whose link to cancer is being investigated.” In addition, “cafestol, a compound in coffee grounds, has been found to increase levels of LDL, or ‘bad,’ cholesterol. Brewing with a paper filter helps remove the substance. Coffee made other ways, including French press and espresso, has higher levels of cafestol.”
So will drinking more coffee make us healthier or kill us? The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee tells us that “moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors.” Moderation, of course.
So is that two cups of coffee a day or three to five? The Scrapbook still isn’t sure and is actually feeling a bit panicky. The Scrapbook also can’t stop tapping its foot.
Oh, and by the way, all of the above refers to black coffee. If you like adding cream and sugar to it, experts say, you’re done for.