As I stated in the intro of this "beverage expedition," coffee is not the problem so much as consuming too much caffeine. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater –– in this case the coffee out with the liquid consumption. Check to see what other sources may be contributing to your overall caffeine use. And caffeine is not all bad either; it actually has positive effects on physical performance, including sports and exercise routines.
Now that I have your attention, caffeine –– a central nervous system stimulant and diuretic –– exists naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of more than 60 plants, including tea leaves, kola nuts, coffee, and cocoa beans. It can also be produced synthetically and used as an additive in food products. While research on the health effects of caffeine is ongoing, we do know that excessive caffeine intake can lead to a fast heart rate, excessive urination, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, depression, tremors, and difficulty sleeping.
Another way many of you turn your "cup of java" from good to bad is when you add sugar and cream or buy pre-made coffee drinks, which adds extra calories and fat to your diet and eventually unwanted weight to your body. The big tip here: before you take that trip to your local Starbucks or coffee shop and order everything on the beverage menu, take a look at the caloric content. That grande caffé mocha has 330 calories, 33 grams of sugar, a whopping 15 grams of fat, and 175 mg caffeine, while the same size low-fat caffé latte has 190 calories, 17 grams of sugar, 7 grams of fat, and 150 mg caffeine. On the other hand, a 16-oz plain cup of coffee has 5 calories, zero sugar, zero fat, and 330 mg of caffeine.
For those of you who are not among the 54 percent of Americans who drink coffee –– not “your cup of tea” –– our next beverage stop is TEA, one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world, offering many health and fitness benefits! Maybe we'll see some more goats –– they are so cute –– or off to another amazing part of the world grasping a tiny glimpse of another intriguing culture. China?