Prairie Fare: Are you a coffee drinker?

Julie Garden-Robinson
NDSU Extension Food and Nutrition Specialist

“I have had the worst headache!” my friend said.

“I was so tired, too,” she continued.

You can guess where my brain went. I began calculating the amount of time we had been in contact and how close we had been sitting to each other.

“Can you smell and taste?” I asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

“I went from having at least five cups of coffee to five cups of decaffeinated coffee,” she responded. “I didn’t know my daughter only had decaffeinated coffee when I visited.”

I was relieved she was just having caffeine withdrawal and not COVID-19. After going back to her daily dose of caffeine, she was fine.

I can tell when I have too much or too little coffee, too. Two cups of coffee before noon is the sweet spot for me. If I have caffeine after lunch, it interferes with my sleep and makes me jittery.

Some people can consume coffee all day without any effect. Do you know anyone who can fall asleep with an empty coffee cup nearby?

Coffee has an interesting history. Humans were introduced to the effects of coffee by noticing animal behavior. According to legend, early herders noticed that goats became very peppy after consuming berries from certain bushes.

The herders brought the berries to a local monastery. Someone dared to taste them or, perhaps, soaked the berries in hot water.

They found that consuming the berries kept people awake during evening prayers.

Perhaps the energizing effect of coffee beans launched early “coffee hours” in between religious services in many denominations.

Coffee, in moderation, has some potential health benefits. In fact, some research studies have shown that having three to five (8-ounce) cups of coffee is associated with a longer life. Coffee drinkers may maintain their brain function and lower their risk of depression, certain types of cancer, Type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

While some people worry that coffee increases their risk for the bone-weakening disease osteoporosis, researchers have shown that moderate consumption of coffee will not harm your bones. In fact, you can offset the risk by adding a couple of tablespoons of milk to your cup of coffee.

Be sure that you are consuming adequate calcium from foods and beverages, though. Check out the Nutrition Facts labels to see the percent of the daily value for calcium that is contained in the foods and beverages you choose.

Keep in mind, though, that coffee is not a magic elixir. You need an overall healthful diet and moderate exercise for overall good health.

If you are a coffee drinker, what type of coffee do you enjoy? Do you prefer filtered, instant, light or dark roast?

For example, using coffee filters when brewing coffee is a good practice. The filters actually remove some components in coffee that could affect your blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

If you like instant coffee, be aware that this type of coffee does not raise blood cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Did you know that “light roast” coffee is not “lighter” in caffeine? It actually has more caffeine than dark roast coffee.

Keep in mind that your 5-calorie cup of coffee can drastically jump in calories to 500, depending on what you add to it. Cream, sugar, chocolate and whipped cream taste good but add calories.

Indulging regularly in high-calorie beverages could add weight to your frame. Just 100 extra calories a day without counteracting physical activity can add 10 pounds a year.

The method of preparation and type of coffee determine the caffeine content. A typical 8-ounce cup of “regular” coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine while a 1-ounce shot of espresso contributes about 65 milligrams of caffeine.

Enjoy a moderate amount of coffee. After water, coffee is the world’s most consumed beverage. The Netherlands, Finland and Canada are among the top coffee-consuming countries in the world, while the U.S. typically ranks in the top 10.

If you are looking for a pick-me-up to go with a cup of coffee, try an energy bite.

Energy bites

  • 1 c. oats.
  • 1/2 c. nut butter.
  • 1/4 c. honey or maple syrup.
  • 1/4 c. dried fruit.
  • 1/4 c. nuts.
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed.
  • 2 Tbsp. mini chocolate chips.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir. Chill for 30 min. to firm. Roll into tablespoon-size bites or use a small cookie scoop to portion the ingredients.

Makes 24 servings. Each serving has 70 calories, 3.5 grams (g) fat, 2 g protein, 9 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber and 35 milligrams sodium.

Energy bites are a pick-me-up to go with a cup of coffee.