An Australian study claims that coffee can increase stamina and help weight loss. It, most health experts warn against drinking it. So what is the truth about coffee? Amy Anderson separates myth from fact ...
1. Coffee is fat-free - MYTH
After brewing, espresso coffee contains 2.5% fat. Filter coffee contains 0.6%. It's mainly the milk or cream taken with the coffee that adds fat.
2. Coffee makes you more physically active - FACT
Caffeine -- the main active ingredient in coffee -- acts as a mild stimulant on the central nervous system. This, in turn, is responsible for boosting alertness when individuals are tired -- during night-shift work, on a long journey, or after lunch when the body's circadian rhythm is at its lowest. It is also why drinking coffee before taking part in sport can make you perform better.
3. Coffee is just a quick stimulant - MYTH
The stimulant effect of coffee peaks in the blood 15 to 45 minutes after drinking -- but may persist for hours. How fast your body deals with caffeine depends on your metabolic rate, but its expulsion is slowed by pregnancy, medications such antacids and the Pill.
4. It's always hard to give up coffee - MYTH
A tiny percentage of the population, who may be sensitive to the mild stimulant effects of caffeine, may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as headache and lethargy, if they suddenly stop drinking coffee. These symptoms can be avoided by cutting down gradually over a few days. Most people just feel slightly less alert in the mornings when they stop drinking coffee.
5. Drinking coffee is an aid to weight loss - FACT
Caffeine has been shown to lead to a temporary increase in the metabolic rate and the rate of fat breakdown. Although increases in energy expenditure caused by caffeine are small, they may be of benefit in some weight-loss programs.
6. Coffee can make you more mentally alert - FACT
Caffeine can boost the speed of rapid information processing by 10%, and a cup of coffee after lunch helps to counteract the "post-lunch dip" in ability to sustain concentration. It can also make you less drowsy when you have a cold, and can stimulate sensory nerves.
7. Coffee is certain to make it hard to sleep - MYTH
The effect of caffeine on the ability to fall asleep differs hugely between individuals. Some people who drink coffee in the evening find they have no problems sleeping; others find its stimulant effect means it takes them much longer to fall asleep.
However, a higher proportion of poor sleepers than good sleepers appear to metabolize caffeine particularly slowly. This is why doctors often recommend that people who are having problems getting to sleep refrain from drinking coffee in the late afternoon or early evening.
8. The darker the roast, the stronger the coffee - MYTH
The darkness of a coffee roast depends on how long it has been left to roast for, and lighter roasts often have a stronger flavor. Darker roasts are more acidic, which can make the taste better or worse, depending on your personal preference.
9. Coffee is a diuretic - MYTH
With normal consumption of three or four cups a day, studies have found the diuretic effects of coffee to be negligible. It's only when there's a high intake that appears to have a diuretic effect.
10. Drinking coffee causes cancer - MYTH
Thousands of research projects have been carried out to investigate any links between coffee consumption and the development of cancer. In 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund published a comprehensive review of diet and cancer. It stated: "Most evidence suggests that regular consumption of coffee and/or tea has no risk of cancer at any site."
Some studies have found that a freshly brewed cup of coffee may actually help your body to fight cancer. Antioxidants in both regular and decaffeinated coffee -- many of which are produced during the roasting process may have beneficial effects. Antioxidants can reduce levels of damaging free-radicals and have been shown in studies to have both cancer and age-fighting effects.
11. Coffee causes Parkinson's disease - MYTH
Consumption of increasing amounts of coffee or caffeine is associated in studies with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson's disease -- a condition which affects a region of the brain causing a tremor of the hands, an abnormal gait, rigidity of the legs and arms, and often altered mental function.
12. Coffee can be used as a beauty treatment - FACT
The Japanese have been known to bathe in coffee grounds fermented with pineapple pulp to reduce wrinkles and improve skin.
13. Coffee can cause high blood pressure - MYTH
Habitual coffee drinkers have been shown to have a similar blood pressure to non-coffee drinkers. However, some people who have not consumed coffee for a period of time and who then start to drink coffee may experience a small, short-term rise in blood pressure. This rise would be no greater than that experienced when engaging in active conversation or laughing.
14. Drinking coffee may raise cholesterol levels - MYTH
Raised cholesterol levels have been shown to be responsible for heart disease. However, the only method of brewing coffee which is known to have a significant effect on cholesterol levels is the Scandinavian "boiled" method, where the coffee grounds are boiled with water and then served without filtering.
15. Drinking coffee may lead to osteoporosis - MYTH
It has been suggested that osteoporosis, a disease which causes crumbling of the bones, may be exacerbated by drinking coffee, because caffeine causes calcium to be excreted from the body, so weakening the bones.
However, a UK Government report on nutrition and bone health concluded that such concerns were not well-founded.
Indeed, because many people drink their coffee with milk -- an important source of calcium -- drinking coffee may contribute to total calcium intake.