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    Love your morning brew? Well, you’re in good company.

    Imagine waking up without that delightful cup of coffee — it’s practically a crime against comfort, right? Whether you’re hugging a mug while scrolling through the headlines or hustling to your favorite café for an on-the-go caffeine fix, coffee is like a trusted friend. 

    Coffee lovers, rejoice! That morning cup isn’t just a routine; it’s a comforting friend. Let’s explore the health story behind your daily brew.

    Guess what? This beloved brew isn’t just a source of warm fuzzies; it’s also surprisingly packed with perks!

    But you might have wondered whether your coffee habit is healthy. Fear not, because science has been hard at work dissecting those coffee beans, and it turns out that your daily coffee fix might actually be doing you more good than harm.

    Let’s spill the beans on coffee – the good kind of spill, of course. 

    (BTW, love your coffee but want to sip smartly? Take SIMPLE’s personalized quiz, and we’ll help ensure that your beloved brew complements your fasting and wellness goals. Never miss a beat (or a sip)!)

    Key takeaways

    • While black coffee has a few trace nutrients, it’s mostly nutritious because of what it’s not — i.e., full of calories, sugar, fat, etc. It’s nearly calorie-free and perfect for a fast.
    • Adding extras like milk, cream, or sweetener is OK during your eating window. However, be aware of calories if you’re a multiple-cups-a-day coffee lover.
    • Coffee may have some health benefits, though this likely varies from person to person.
    • A little caffeine is fine for most people as long as you don’t let it mess with your sleep. Also, be cautious if you’re pregnant or on medications.

    Is coffee nutritious?

    Black coffee isn’t exactly a superfood, but it’s not a nutritional villain either. An eight-ounce serving packs a mere one calorie with pretty much zero fat, carbs, or protein. The caffeine in black coffee may also help lower appetite while stimulating movement in the digestive tract.

    That makes black coffee ideal for a fasting-friendly drink. 

    (Pro tip: some say a tiny pinch of salt in black coffee can diminish bitterness without adding calories.)

    Coffee beans themselves may also contain antioxidants, compounds that help combat some of the unwanted byproducts of cellular metabolism that contribute to many chronic diseases and aging.[1–6] 

    What happens if you add stuff?

    Many people do enjoy a little extra in their coffee. During your eating window, feel free to enjoy milk, cream, non-dairy milk, or sweeteners. Just be aware that these add calories. 

    For instance:

    • Mixing four ounces of coffee with four ounces of 2% milk = 55 calories.
    • That plus 2 teaspoons of sugar = 90 calories. 

    So, if you’re doubling or tripling these doses throughout the day, those calories can gang up on you.

    And, of course, if you’re drinking bulletproof coffee — coffee with butter and/or oil blended into it — those calories can add up too. 1 tablespoon of butter or oil has 120 calories, so a few tablespoons can have as many calories as a meal.

    What about those coffee shop concoctions that could double as dessert? While they’re a decadent treat, they can sometimes pack more punch than you bargained for. Those creamy, syrupy, extra-large cups might make your taste buds dance, but your calorie count might be doing the cha-cha, too! Some can be as high as several hundred calories.

    And if you’re worried about keeping track of those daily coffee sips (especially with a little milk here or sweetener there), why not give the SIMPLE app a try? The hydration tracker and food journal will help you stay on track. Head on over to the SIMPLE quiz to get started today!

    What are the health benefits of coffee?

    Sipping coffee, sharing laughter, and potentially reducing our heart disease risk — who knew our weekly coffee chats were so beneficial?

    We used to think coffee was “bad for you.” Now we know that it may have many health benefits — depending on the person.

    People vary genetically in their response to coffee and caffeine, which explains why scientific studies on coffee often have mixed results.[7,8]

    For instance, people who are genetically “slow metabolizers” of caffeine don’t process or excrete caffeine as well as those who are genetically “fast metabolizers.” This means that caffeine hangs around longer and may cause problems like insomnia.

    However, in general, coffee has been studied for health benefits like:

    • Reducing heart disease risk: In some people, moderate coffee intake seems to lower heart disease risk through several mechanisms, such as by potentially lowering inflammation.[6,9,10] 
    • Lowering cataract risk: Many eye diseases like cataracts occur with the oxidative stress and inflammation of aging. Some research suggests that coffee may help lower the risk via its antioxidant properties.[2] However, we need more research to validate this.
    • Supporting DNA repair: Having healthy DNA means your cells are functioning correctly, and you have a lower risk of cancer. Drinking coffee seems to produce an adaptive cellular response that involves producing more enzymes involved in cell defense and repair.[11] One study showed that coffee might protect your DNA from breakage.[12] Again, we aren’t completely sure of the link, and this is still an area of ongoing research. 
    • Lowering type 2 diabetes risk: One review of about 50,000 coffee drinkers found that each cup of coffee a person drank per day lowered their average risk of type 2 diabetes by about 6%, up to a limit of 6 cups.[11] But again, we need more research to confirm this link.
    • Decreasing inflammation: Coffee seems to have anti-inflammatory effects due to its polyphenol content, which may help explain why it seems to decrease the risk of many health problems with an inflammatory component, such as heart disease.[6] 
    • Contributing to a healthy gut microbiome: Coffee seems to influence the gut microbiome (aka friendly bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our gastrointestinal tract) for the better, such as potentially increasing microbial diversity.[13] But you know the drill … we need more research to form a link between the two. [14–16]

    What are the health risks of coffee?

    Again, like the health benefits, health risks can vary from person to person.

    Caffeine intake

    Caffeinated coffee works its magic on alertness and focus by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain.[17] Adenosine is a protein that builds up while we’re awake — once it gets high enough, it tells our brain it’s time to sleep. By blocking adenosine, caffeine can help our brains temporarily ignore this fatigue-producing buildup.

    For most people, having a bit of caffeine, especially in the morning, is fine. 

    However, for people who are sensitive to caffeine, plus people with health conditions such as high blood pressure and arrhythmias, it may be wise for them to keep their caffeine intake low — no more than 2 cups of coffee (200 mg of caffeine) per day at most.[18–20] 

    Caffeine and cardiovascular disease: While moderate coffee drinking seems to be heart-friendly, drinking a lot of coffee does seem to increase the risk of heart and cardiovascular diseases.[21,22]

    Caffeine and pregnancy: During pregnancy, emerging evidence suggests that moms who consume more caffeine have a higher risk of delivering infants with low birth weights.[23–25] Consult with your healthcare provider before making any lifestyle changes, though.

    Caffeine may interfere with sleep.[26] On average, it takes about 6–8 hours for half the caffeine to clear from your body, but in some sensitive, slow-metabolizing people, it may take 12 hours or more. So, skip the coffee after noon for better sleep.

    Caffeine may interfere with some medications. If you’re starting a new medication or wondering if your coffee habits inhibit your current medications, talk with your doctor.

    Other issues:[27] Some folks might find that caffeine also worsens:

    • irritability, anxiety, and mood swings
    • long-term energy levels (i.e., you get a “high” followed by a “crash”)
    • indigestion and heartburn
    • irritable bowel syndrome
    • headaches
    • heart palpitations

    How much coffee is OK?

    Freshly brewed and full of benefits, but always mindful of the limit. Balance is key when it comes to your coffee consumption!

    If you’re an adult, try not to drink more than four 8-oz. cups of regular coffee per day. Any more than four cups of coffee (or 400 mg of caffeine), and you’ll approach the danger zone of caffeine’s adverse health effects.[27,28] 

    However, every person responds differently to different doses. If you experience headaches, sleeplessness, irritability, increased urination, increased heart rate, or palpitations, consider decreasing the amount of coffee you’re drinking or switching to decaf. And, of course, talk to your healthcare provider if these symptoms persist.

    What about decaffeinated coffee?

    Decaffeinated coffee is regular coffee that’s processed to have a significantly lower caffeine level. The process of decaffeination doesn’t typically impact the nutritional content or antioxidant properties of the coffee to a significant degree. 

    Multiple studies show that decaf coffee has the same health benefits as regular coffee.[29]

    SIMPLE’s expert opinion and final thoughts 

    • A daily cup of coffee likely has benefits for many people. 
    • Be mindful of what you add to your coffee and how much you consume each day. 
    • Keep the caffeine intake to earlier in your day, and keep it moderate (aim for no more than 400 mg a day).
    • Pay attention to how you feel when you drink your coffee, and speak with your doctor about any concerns you may have.

    P.S. Thirsty for more insights? SIMPLE has you covered! Whether you’re an intermittent fasting beginner or simply looking to refine your approach, our nutrition tracker and extensive resources can guide your path. Drink your coffee and thrive with our expert tips and tricks. Start your wellness evolution by taking our SIMPLE quiz.

    Frequently asked questions about coffee

    Can I drink coffee while fasting?

    Yes, black coffee is a perfect fasting drink — it helps lower appetite and is calorie-free. You can also add a small dash of milk if you struggle to drink black coffee, but keep this to below 10 calories to avoid breaking a fast.

    Are there any risks of drinking too much coffee?

    Yes, excessive coffee consumption above 400 mg a day can lead to negative effects such as increased heart rate, restlessness, and digestive issues due to its caffeine content. It’s important to stay within the recommended daily limits.

    Can coffee interact with medications?

    Yes, caffeine in coffee can interact with certain medications. If you’re taking medications, consult your healthcare provider to ensure there are no adverse interactions.

    Is coffee addictive?

    Coffee contains caffeine, which can be habit-forming — especially if you rely on caffeine to keep you alert during times of fatigue. (In other words, if you regularly don’t get enough sleep.) While coffee addiction is not as concerning as other addictions, some people may experience withdrawal symptoms like headaches and irritability if they abruptly cut down on caffeine.[30]

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