With coffee being one of the main sources of the average person’s caffeine intake, it is a good idea to know the benefits and risks involved.
“About 10 minutes after I drink the first cup, I feel a little pep in my step,” said Nick Parsons, senior in building science.
According to mayoclinic.com, drinking 500-600 milligrams of caffeine, or 4-7 cups of coffee, a day may be too much.
To put this in perspective, 8 ounces of brewed, generic coffee contains 95-200 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a 16-ounce Starbucks vanilla latte contains 150 milligrams.
Consuming 4-7 cups of coffee a day can cause problems sleeping, irritability, upset stomach and headaches.
Parsons said he drinks an average of 2-3 cups daily.
“I started drinking coffee when I got to college,” Parsons said. “I was tired from staying up all night, so I started drinking coffee to get though the next day.”
Research theories say caffeine can cause appetite suppression, can stimulate thermogenesis (the process that generates heat and energy from digesting food) and act as a diuretic, which means it speeds up the rate of urination, causing the body to rid itself of water faster.
Coffee also has the ability to temporarily increase blood pressure.
The amount of caffeine found in 2-3 cups of coffee can raise both the systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) pressures in blood pressure readings, mayoclinic.com said.
Parsons said he brews Starbucks coffee at home every day and drinks it black.
But for those who prefer coffee with a little something extra, using sugar or artificial sweeteners also has its risks.
“Using regular sugar in your coffee isn’t bad for you if you use it in moderation,” said Kristen Wheeles, a first-year pharmacy student. “Sugar is natural and metabolizes in your body at a normal rate to become glucose, which is the body’s purest form of sugar. Too much of it has obvious side effects like a sugar rush, quickly followed by a crash in energy.”
Artificial sweeteners are also on the list of potential health hazards.
However, they aren’t as bad as one might think.
“Artificial sweeteners, like sugar, are OK in moderation,” Wheeles said. “Sweeteners such as Equal, Sweet’N Low and Splenda don’t metabolize at a normal rate. They also don’t metabolize into glucose, which is what’s best for your body.”
While sugar is healthier than artificial sweeteners, artificial sweeteners often contain zero calories, making them more desirable to some people.
But, if the personal health risks of coffee consumption don’t keep you away, maybe the taste will.
“Coffee tastes like dirt,” said Andrew Wenzler, senior in biomedical sciences.
Wenzler said he tried coffee for the first time in high school, and then again his sophomore year of college.
While some students need coffee to stay awake, Wenzler said he just gets enough sleep every night.
“I’ve been miserable enough in situations when I just had to fight through the nastiness,” Wenzler said.
The big boys like Starbucks and Caribou Coffee have even gone global, so everyone can enjoy a beverage with five words in the title.