There is a story about Gustav III, King of Sweden in the 18th century, who believed that coffee, as well as tea, were dangerous to human health. The king imposed high taxes on these drinks and even restricted their consumption. The highlight was in the twins’ experiment: for a pair of twins, prisoners sentenced to death, he sweetened the sentence to track the consequences of drinking coffee and tea.
For one twin he ordered to drink three jugs of coffee a day and for the other the same amount of tea for the rest of their lives. As mentioned, he did this to keep track of the damages these drinks cause. Ironically, the doctors in charge of the experiment and later also Gustav III died, before the prisoners. The results of the experiment, if any, were never published. Today, as then, coffee arouses interest and curiosity. Some praise him and some fear him. Thankfully science has progressed since Gustav’s’ twin studies.
From the beans to the cup
The coffee is extracted from the beans of the coffee plant. There are dozens of varieties of coffee, and the best known are Arabica and Robusta. A rather long process is required until the coffee is sipped from the cup. About four years pass before the coffee plant first yields cherry-like red fruits, whose seeds are the beans. The plant continues to bear fruit for another 40 years.
After collecting the fruit, drying them and removing the outer peel, the green beans are exposed. They are sorted and tasted by experts, and only the proper beans move on to the next stage – roasting. This action significantly affects the taste and aroma, as well as the shades of brown color. Grinding the beans intensifies the aroma and taste.
The good, the bad and the unknown
Coffee contains hundreds of different ingredients: caffeine, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The most talked about ingredient is caffeine. It is important to know that caffeine is also found in tea, cocoa, chocolate, soft drinks (cola), energy drinks and even in certain medications.
Caffeine is known as a stimulant, which increases concentration and alertness, especially in a state of fatigue. This is why caffeine consumption at night can delay and interfere with sleep. Caffeine can contribute to increased physical performance by stimulating metabolism and delaying fatigue. It is absorbed quickly, usually within 30 minutes, and its effect lasts between two and five hours.
The effect of caffeine varies from person to person. Coffee drinkers adapt to high amounts of caffeine and are not as affected as people who are not accustomed to drinking coffee.
Not drinking coffee among people accustomed to drinking coffee can cause a headache. Low-intensity temporal-forehead pain, which sometimes passes about 15 minutes after drinking coffee. Therefore, those who are accustomed to drinking coffee in the morning and skip it from time to time, may feel a headache that day. Often, headaches during the Yom Kippur fast are not the result of hunger or dehydration but because of the lack of coffee.
It is recommended that coffee drinkers gradually reduce their coffee consumption several days before fasting, to avoid this phenomenon. On the other hand, caffeine causes certain blood vessels to dilate and as a result can sometimes help soothe some cases of headache by increasing blood flow to the brain. Caffeine may weaken or loosen the lower esophageal cavity, and allow food and fluid to flow back from the stomach to the esophagus, so it is not recommended for reflux sufferers.
Some people refer to coffee as a diuretic, and as such it should not be counted in the count of drinking glasses. But studies from recent years show that drinking up to three cups of coffee a day does not significantly increase the amount of urine relative to drinking water, so a cup of coffee can be considered in the drinking count.
Caffeine has been extensively researched in recent years. From the wide variety of studies it is not possible to link it with the chance of developing certain diseases significantly.
There are conflicting studies regarding the effect of coffee on calcium absorption, but there is evidence to suggest that coffee impairs calcium absorption, and therefore increases the risk of bone fractures in women. Among some pregnant women, there is a concern that drinking coffee may increase the risk of having a low-birth baby. Sometimes pregnant women are reluctant to drink coffee, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, so naturally there is a reduction in coffee consumption.
There are studies that suggest that moderate coffee consumption is linked to a reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, and a number of cancers. The mechanism influencing the decline in cancer risk is not clear enough, but some link it to the high presence of antioxidants. However, it is important to emphasize that most studies on coffee are observational studies, these are studies that indicate a possible connection but not a direct cause and effect.
Caffeine – possible, in moderation
The recommendation of international health organizations is to drink a maximum of three cups of coffee a day. A moderate amount is considered up to 300 mg of caffeine per day. This is the amount in two or three cups of coffee, depending on the type of coffee and the amount of caffeine per serving, of course.
Here are examples of average caffeine content in beverages, in a 150 ml cup (dose):
Instant coffee – 65 mg; decaffeinated coffee – 3 mg; Espresso (30 ml) – 40 mg; Filter coffee – 115 mg; cocoa – 5 mg; Tea (depending on concentration) – about 30 mg; cola drinks (300 ml) – 40 mg; energy drinks (250 ml) – 80 mg; 100 grams of dark chocolate – 90 mg , And milk chocolate – 15 mg.
It is important to emphasize that the things brought here are not a recommendation to drink coffee, especially for those who do not like. There are drinks and other foods rich in antioxidants and nutrients that can benefit with health. But quality coffee lovers can enjoy coffee with less remorse.