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Caffeine and Coffee

Fitness for mind and body.

Contrary to popular belief, caffeine has not been linked to causing hypertension or to sustained elevations in blood pressure. However, individuals with high blood pressure may wish to discuss caffeine consumption with their doctor.

Sensitivity to caffeine may cause a temporary rise in blood pressure after consumption in some individuals. Typically this lasts no more than several hours. The effect is similar to climbing a flight of stairs.

Most experts consider moderate consumption to be up to 300mg daily -- the amount contained in 2 to 3 cups of coffee or five to six cans of caffeine containing soft drinks.

On the down side of this issue, the wrong coffee can raise cholesterol. Fresh-perked coffee that does not pass through a paper filter retains two chemicals known to boost cholesterol levels - cafestol and kahweol.

So we wonder: What about instant coffee, which you make without a filter? Could this be a hidden cholesterol raiser for the millions drinking it? Good news -- it's not!

Instant coffee is brewed in huge vats, then only the water soluble part is used in the final product. Since cafestol and kahweol are fat-soluble, they are left behind, leaving nothing in the instant coffee to raise cholesterol levels.

Caffeine content of some favorite beverages and foods:

Caffeine and Coffee

  • Coca-Cola, 8 ounce serving, 23mg
  • Diet Coke, 8 ounce serving 31mg
  • Coffee, drip-brewed, 8 ounce cup - Range of 65-120, 85 typical
  • Coffee, instant, 8 ounce cup - Range of 60-85, 75 typical
  • Iced Tea, 8 ounce glass - Range of 9-50, 25 typical
  • Cocoa, 8 ounce serving - 3-32mg, 6 typical
  • Milk chocolate, 1 ounce - 1-15mg, 6 typical
  • Dark chocolate, 1 ounce - 5-35mg, 20 typical
  • Baker's chocolate, 1 ounce - 26mg

And just where does caffeine come from?

Caffeine is found naturally in the leaves and fruit of more than 60 plants, including coffee beans, cocoa beans, kola nuts and tea leaves.

Caffeine Kick

Just as caffeine speeds your heart rate, it can speed up your metabolism. When 10 lean and 10 obese women drank caffeinated coffee, their metabolic rates jumped on average 174 calories for the lean subjects and 98 calories for the obese subjects, reported researchers in the American Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The boosted metabolic rate didn't last until the next day, but it did last longer in the thin women than in the obese women. Does this mean caffeine will supercharge your metabolic rate? Although this study looks promising, other long-term studies have not linked caffeine with weight loss just yet, suggesting that you might build up tolerance to the metabolic effects of caffeine.

Caffeine and Depression

Recent research indicates that drinking coffee may lower the incidence of depression in older women. The Depression study, which included 50,000 women with an average age of 63, found that women who drink four 8-ounce cups of caffeinated coffee daily are 20 percent less likely to become depressed than women who rarely drank coffee. The researchers suggest that one possible explanation for caffeine's role in lowering depression is that caffeine appears to protect the brain against certain neurotoxins that interfere with the release of chemicals related to mood.

In addition, caffeine is a psychoactive drug that works sort of like a harmless crack cocaine, increasing dopamine and serotonin transmission within just 30 minutes.

Did You Know?

In 1923, Sanka was introduced. In 1939, the first instant coffee was born. It was Nescafe.

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