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Coffee: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Posted by Joan Salge Blake  December 13, 2011 02:46 PM

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Photo Source:  Flickr, Kalense Kid
Ever notice that no matter where your travels take you, around town or around the world, there is always a line at the coffee shop?  That's because coffee has been reported to be one of the most popular beverages consumed around the globe.  If you find yourself consuming even more of it this busy time of the year, please read on about the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to drinking coffee.

The Good:
We all know that the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant, which is a popular reason why many of us reach for a cup of java first thing in the morning.  Alertness aside, research has been brewing that drinking coffee may actually be good for your health.  Studies have shown that moderate coffee consumption does not increase the risk of heart disease or high blood pressure and that it may actually help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, depression, and Parkinson's disease

The Bad
According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), consumptions of high amounts of caffeine by women has been associated with not only delayed conception and miscarriages but also low birth weight babies.  Because of these reasons, the ADA's current position is for pregnant women to keep their daily caffeine consumption to no more than 300 milligrams daily from all sources.  While this may seem like a robust amount, keep in mind that a 16-ounce mug of coffee contains more than half that amount, or about 190 milligrams of caffeine.  In addition to coffee, caffeine is also found in some sodas, energy drinks, chocolate, and tea. 

The Ugly:
While a cup (8 oz) of brewed coffee weighs in at a mere 5 calories, if you order a hefty size coffee with whole milk or cream, a sweetened flavoring, and topped with whipped cream,  the calories could get, well, ugly:

Caramel Brulee Latte*, 16 oz: 430 calories
Peppermint Mocha*, 16 oz: 440 calories
*Made with whole milk & topped with whipped cream

                                                                                        Leaner Bets:
Caffe Latte, 16 oz, nonfat milk:  130 calories
Skinny Peppermint Mocha, 16 oz, nonfat milk: 130 calories

Dunkin' Donuts
Cinnamon Swirl Coffee, 24 oz, with cream:  420 calories
Mocha Coffee, 20 oz, with cream:  340 calories

                                                                                         Leaner Bets:
Cinnamon Coffee, 10 oz: 15 calories
Mocha Coffee, 10 oz:  110 calories

Peppermint Mocha Latte**, 16 oz: 520 calories
Caramel Latte, 16 oz:  420 calories
**Made with 2% milk & topped with whipped cream

                                                                                         Leaner Bets:
Cappuccino, 16, oz: 120 calories
Caffe Latte, 16 oz: 120 calories

Enjoy your coffee but think twice about regularly ordering it with tons of extras.

Originally published on the blog Nutrition and You!.
This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, LDN, is a clinical associate professor and registered dietitian at Boston University in the Nutrition Program. Joan is the author of Nutrition &You, 2nd Edition, More »

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