Just Brew It | Torrance Memorial

Published on September 23, 2021

Craving Caffeine? #JustBrewIt

cup of coffee

By: Briana Jacinto, Torrance Memorial Dietetic Intern and co-written by Dani Rodriguez-Brindicci, MS, RDN, Director of Clinical Nutrition

National Coffee Day is celebrated on September 29th to honor the caffeinated beverage that has been consumed for hundreds of years and for so many, a critical part of their morning routine. In the United States alone, 146 billion cups of coffee are consumed every year; however, this versatile drink has had a hot n’ cold reputation. In 1991, coffee was considered a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization, but by 2016, research showed coffee actually decreased your risk of certain cancers. The mixed messages surrounding coffee have left consumers confused and unsure of whether they can enjoy their cup of joe, but the latest evidence-based research can help clear the air!

Which has the highest concentration of antioxidants?? Blueberries, dark chocolate or coffee beans?

Fact: Coffee beans carry the absolute highest level of antioxidants. Blueberries contain 9.24 mmol/100g, dark chocolate contains 8.38 mmol/100g, while coffee beans contain 22.75 mmol/100g.

Coffee is a powerful source of antioxidants, containing more properties than your “superfoods” such as kale and berries! Antioxidants, including hydrocinnamic acid and polyphenols, effectively disarm free radicals which can help protect against aging and diseases. In addition, coffee contains phytonutrients which are compounds found in plants known to be beneficial to human health and disease prevention. See the figure for a comparison of the antioxidant activity in coffee and other beverages.

Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide containing a substantial amount of caffeine, making it the most widely consumed psychoactive agent! Daily consumption of coffee has been consistently associated with a reduced risk of several chronic diseases. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, drinking 3 to 5 standard cups (8 oz) of regular coffee or 400 mg of caffeine per day for adults may lead to optimal benefits. The positive effects of caffeine intake on the body include:


  • Increases mental performance and vigilance owing to greater alertness
  • May reduce the risk of depression
  • May reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease


  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases


  • Slightly improves lung function in adults


  • May reduce the risk of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis, and cancer


  • Reduced risk of gallstones and gallbladder cancer

Kidneys and Urinary Tract:

  • High doses can have a diuretic effect, but habitual moderate intake does not affect hydration status
  • Reduced risk of kidney stones

Although coffee has many beneficial effects on the body, it is important to keep in mind the adverse effects of high caffeine intake. Side effects of caffeine at very high levels, more than 400 mg of caffeine per day, may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation

In addition to the side effects of excessive caffeine intake, be mindful of high-calorie coffee drinks that can be upwards of 1000 calories (which meets more than half of the daily calorie intake for some)! Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Coffee Bean all have signature drinks, especially during the holiday season, that are delicious and creamy but calorie-dense. Here are some tips to enjoy your favorite coffee drink as we approach National Coffee Day while remaining health conscious.

  • Ask for milk alternatives- Many coffee shops use whole milk by default, try other options such as almond, soy, oat, or skim milk for an equally creamy taste!
  • Ask for sugar-free syrups-Substitute high calorie syrups for sugar-free options that will allow for the same great taste without the extra calories!
  • Skip the whip cream- Whip cream is “light and airy,” but can add extra calories, upward of 100+ calories (depending on the brand/serving size) to your drink!
  • Make it at home- Buying a coffee every day at your local coffee shop can become an expensive habit. With the average coffee priced at $4, your weekly spending will average from $30 a week to $120 a month to and a whopping $1,400 a year! By pocketing the extra cash, you not only save financially, but you may save yourself a few extra inches off your waist!

If you have questions or are interested in learning more techniques to help build a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, contact one of our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists at the Outpatient Medical Nutrition Therapy Office or our Diabetes Self-Management Program located in the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center, 2841 Lomita Blvd., Suite 335, Torrance. Call 310-891-6707.