Diluting Coffee's Health Benefits

by Diane Lofshult on Feb 01, 2006

A recent study presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society garnered a lot of media attention when it confirmed what many nutrition experts already suspected: Americans drink way too much coffee—often at the expense of other healthier foods and beverages. Because coffee does contain some heart-healthy antioxidants, the beverage is now the largest single source of antioxidants in our Starbucks-fueled society.

However, the real message behind the study findings is that people rely too much on java for their antioxidant jolt and not enough on healthier fare, like fruits and veggies. “Unfortunately, consumers are still not eating enough fruits and vegetables, which are better for you from a nutritional point of view due to their higher content of vitamins, minerals and fiber,” said the study’s lead investigator, Joe Vinson, PhD, of the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.

Here’s a look at what Americans are eating in terms of per-capita food consumption:

  • coffee = 252 milliliters/day (ml/dy)
  • beer = 224 ml/dy
  • potatoes = 172 grams (g)/dy
  • tomatoes = 87 g/dy
  • tea = 79 ml/dy
  • corn = 34 g/dy
  • onions = 26 g/dy
  • lettuce = 26 g/dy
  • bananas = 23 g/dy
  • wine (red) = 22 ml/dy

So what’s the bottom line? Health experts recommend limiting coffee consumption to no more than 1–2 cups per day and increasing one’s daily intake of colorful fruits and veggies.

Source: November 2005 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter; www.foodnavigator-usa.com.

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About the Author

Diane Lofshult

Diane Lofshult IDEA Author/Presenter

Diane Lofshult is an award-winning freelance author who specializes in nutrition and weight management topics. She is the founder of In Other Words, an editorial consulting firm based in Solana Beach, California. Reach her at lofshult@roadrunner.com.