Not your dad’s Folger’s crystals
Granted when the above-imaged substance is described as “a bitter, crystalline xanthine alkaloid,” it’s not likely to generate much consumer buzz, but then most Americans have something of a love-hate affair with caffeine.
Depending on what day it is, it seems like there is a new scientific study either extolling the under-appreciated health benefits of caffeine or reporting a new heightened health risk from over-consumption. Sometimes things seem to change between cups.
Here’s just a taste:
On the plus side, varying degrees of caffeine consumption have been associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, some kinds of cancer and diabetes; slower cognitive decline related to aging; lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improved abilities (perhaps temporary) to pay attention, concentrate, learn and remember.
On the negative side, caffeine can increase blood pressure, a risk factor for strokes and cerebral vascular disease, which in turn increase the risk of multi-infarct dementia. Caffeine may reduce fine motor control movements while conversely increasing the need to urinate. That’s not necessarily a neat combination. High doses are linked to anxiety, accelerated bone loss and “auditory hallucinations.” That voice telling you to have a 20th cup may not be your favorite barista.
So, if you haven’t already concluded, there are lots of pros and cons to caffeine, and lots of myths to, according to sources like WebMD.
Its bottom line: There’s nothing wrong with moderate consumption if you’re a healthy adult. Moderation in this case being something less than a triple venti café latte with multiple add-shots of espresso and syrups.
There is no pretty picture for that.
Image source: Wellcome Images