Nutrition In yoU: A coffee culture

It’s that time of the semester that most university students rely on coffee to stay awake and alert. In fact, 54% of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee everyday. Although coffee should not be used to replace a good night’s rest, it does have a unique history and several health benefits.

Although mystery remains about exactly how or when coffee was discovered, there are many legends about its origin. The word coffee comes from “Kaffa”, a region in Ethiopia where coffee may have been discovered. According to Ethiopian legend, a goat herder first discovered coffee after he noticed that his goats ate berries from a certain tree and became so energetic that they did not want to sleep at night. Since then, coffee has traversed the globe and become one of the most popular beverages in the world.  

Many potential benefits of coffee can be attributed to caffeine, a naturally occurring stimulant found in the coffee bean. In addition to caffeine, coffee contains several B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants that may contribute to its many health benefits. Black coffee has been shown to protect against certain cancers, diabetes, and stroke. Due to increasing scientific evidence, coffee has even been mentioned in the most recent dietary guidelines. According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines, moderate coffee consumption – up to three to five 8 oz cups per day or 400 mg of caffeine per day – can be incorporated into healthy eating styles.

Caffeine sensitivity varies among individuals based on heredity, body weight, gender, metabolism, and coffee drinking habits. For those highly sensitive to caffeine, decaffeinated coffee is another alternative. In fact, one study found that just smelling roasted coffee can boost energy levels without actually consuming it.

If coffee is crucial to your daily diet, choose to drink it black to reduce excess fat and sugar intake. A 6 oz cup of regular black coffee contains less than 5 calories; however, additional fixings, such as cream, sugar, and other flavoring, often found in frappucinos and mochas can quickly turn a cup of coffee into an indulgent dessert. Enjoy these sweet treats in moderation or for special occasions.    

Next time you are craving a cup of coffee, check out Starbuck or Caribou Coffee  right here on the NIU campus.

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