Many us of enjoy caffeine socially (particularly coffee), and it has been part of tradition in many cultures for centuries. Caffeine is a naturally existing substance found in more than 60 plants including, more commonly, coffee beans, cocoa beans and tea leaves. Caffeine can also be ‘manufactured’ for use in food additives, medicines and appetite suppressants.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, the heart and respiratory system, and is used by many people as an energy booster. Known benefits range from cognitive (quicker reasoning and decision making), physical (improved endurance, reaction time and increased metabolic rate), affective (mood enhancer and energizer) and therapeutic (protects body and brain cells by providing antioxidants).

On the other hand, caffeine in higher doses can cause mineral depletion (e.g. calcium, thereby affecting bone health), hyperactivity, insomnia, heartburn, irregular heartbeat and high blood pressure. Some people are particularly sensitive to caffeine, and if this is the case, all sources should be avoided. Caffeine has been linked to miscarriages, so it should be avoided by anyone pregnant or trying to conceive.

For the majority of us however, an intake of 200-300mg a day is deemed safe for healthy adults. To ensure that you are not moving into the ‘unhealthier’ zone, refer to the caffeine levels below in some of our everyday drinks and foods.

Type of Coffee Caffeine (milligrams)
Generic Brew (250ml) 95 – 200
Generic Instant (250ml) 60 – 100
Generic Decaffeinated (250ml) 2 – 10
Espresso (30ml) (and Espresso based drinks) 60 – 80

Teas and other drinks Caffeine (milligrams)
Black Tea (250ml) 40 – 60
Green Tea (250ml) 20 – 30
Colas (300ml) 30 – 50
Energy drinks (300ml) 100 – 150

Other Items Caffeine (milligrams)
Chocolate Milk Drinks (300ml) 10 – 15
Milk Chocolate (30gm) 5 – 10
Dark Chocolate 70% (30gm) 10 – 20
Coffee flavoured Ice-cream (250ml) 40 – 60

Note that the level of caffeine in coffee drinks can vary depending on the grinding and roasting methods used, along with brewing time. Interestingly, espresso coffee (used in standard coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos) contains a lot less caffeine than drip or brewed coffee, contrary to common perception.

As coffee beans are often sprayed heavily with pesticides, it is always best to choose organic beans, along with checking that Fair Trade practices are applied.
As with all things, choose wisely, in moderation, and enjoy…

‘At times in history coffee has been hailed as a medicinal cure-all and at others condemned as the devil’s brew’ (CoSIC website).

Have any questions? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Liza Rowan

Holistic Nutritionist

When not not busy in my favourite role as mother to my two boys,  I dedicate my time to educate, motivate and inspire us all to lead healthier, happier lives. This involves hosting Nutrition courses (in-class and online), corporate wellness talks, workshops and when I have time, private consultations.

 You can follow me on one or more of the following channels:

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