Category Archives: coffee

Coffee drinkers enjoy life more

coffee potWhile coffee lovers everywhere might look at that headline and heartily agree – there may just be more to it than you’d think. Sure, drinking coffee might perk you up so you can be more present during your daily activities and interactions. And health benefits like decreased stroke risk and Type 2 diabetes risk could help you enjoy life more. But according to a new study, coffee drinkers enjoy life more because their coffee drinking might allow them to enjoy more life. Multiple cups of joe every day may help boost longevity.

“In our study, we found people who drank three to five cups of coffee per day had about a 15 percent lower [risk of premature] mortality compared to people who didn’t drink coffee,” says one of the study authors, nutrition researcher Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health. Decaf drinkers also saw benefits.
The findings, published in the journal Circulation, build on a body of evidence linking a coffee habit to potential health benefits.

Now, of course, it’s possible to overdo it with caffeine. Research has shown that consuming more than 400 milligrams of caffeine can interfere with sleep and create feelings of unease. And some of us are even more sensitive.

One study found that 200 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of about two cups of coffee) is an optimal amount to enhance cognitive function and mood among sleep-deprived people. But we don’t all metabolize caffeine the same way.

As we’ve reported, the caffeine amounts in coffee vary wildly. One analysis, conducted by Bruce Goldberger, found a 16-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks could contain anywhere from 250 milligrams to more than 500 milligrams of caffeine.

“Not everyone reacts to coffee in the same way,” says Andrew Maynard, who studies risk assessment at Arizona State University. He summarizes the benefits documented in this study as “small.”

He says this study does not prove cause and effect between drinking coffee and living longer. Rather, it points to an association. “There are a lot of unknowns as to what [may explain] the increase in life expectancy,” Maynard says.

Here’s a conversation from The Salt about the findings with study co-author Walter Willett, edited for length and clarity.

So, what do you think might explain this association? In the study, you point to compounds in coffee — such as lignans, quinides and magnesium — that may help reduce insulin resistance and inflammation. Prior studieshave pointed to these as well.

We’re not sure exactly how coffee is [linked] to all these benefits. The coffee bean itself is loaded with many different nutrients and phytochemicals. And my guess is that they’re working together to have some of these benefits.

We [see] similar benefits from caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee. That’s important, because it suggests that caffeine is not responsible for [the benefit].

So this may be welcome news to people who drink decaf?

Yes, because too much [caffeinated] coffee can cause insomnia and loss of sleep, and that’s not a good thing!

The reduced risk of death was not seen among the coffee drinkers in your study who were smokers or former smokers.

Definitely. It’s extremely important to disentangle the effects of coffee from the effects of cigarette smoking.

So, what’s the take-home here? Is it that coffee can be part of a healthy lifestyle?

I think if people like coffee, it’s fine to include it [as part of your daily habit]. So, certainly, [people] should not feel guilty about moderate coffee consumption. It definitely can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
I wouldn’t suggest that someone who doesn’t like coffee go out and drink it.

Are you a coffee drinker? Are these findings likely to influence your own behaviors?

Well, I really like a good cup of coffee. But if I have more than two cups a day, I really don’t sleep as well. So, I’ve been switching more toward decaf or half decaf/half regular.

In this study, you also analyzed how coffee influenced the risk of specific diseases — or categories of diseases. What did you find?

We went beyond total mortality and looked at specific causes of death. And we found that people who drink moderate amounts of coffee have lower risk of [death] from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurologic disease [such as Parkinson's] and suicide.
Your findings come from data from two Nurses’ Health Studies, which included about 167,000 women. And it also looked at the 40,000 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.
As you point out, the participants in these studies are about 95 percent white, largely middle-class and well-educated. Can you extrapolate to other populations?
Yes, I’m quite sure these findings would apply to other populations. This is a biological relationship. And we basically have a common biology. is always happy to see more good news associated with our favorite hot beverage. And while it’s always important for all of us to understand how much is too much, it certainly appears that there’s a lot more going on in that cup than just the caffeine!

Coffee may offer protection from repeat colon cancer

coffee-beans-691761_640-e1440249722933It seems that is continually reporting on yet another health benefit from coffee. These welcome pieces of news are embraced by those of us who are avid coffee lovers. Today’s news shows how coffee can protect colon cancer survivors from the return of the disease. Share

Daily consumption of caffeinated coffee may prevent the return of colon cancer after treatment, research from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute has shown. Additionally, it may also improve chances of successful treatment.

Patients in the study, all of whom were treated with surgery and chemotherapy for stage III colon cancer, had the greatest benefit from consuming four or more cups of coffee a day (about 460 milligrams of caffeine). These patients were 42 percent less likely to have their cancer return than non-coffee drinkers, and were 33 percent less likely to die from cancer or any other cause.

A more modest benefit was seen from two to three cups of coffee daily, while little protection was associated with one cup or less, reported the researchers, led by Charles Fuchs, MD, MPH, director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Center at Dana-Farber.

“We found that coffee drinkers had a lower risk of the cancer coming back and a significantly greater survival and chance of a cure,” Fuchs said.

Most recurrences happen within five years of treatment and are uncommon after that, he noted.

In patients with stage III disease, the cancer has been found in the lymph nodes near the original tumor but there are no signs of further metastasis. Fuchs said these patients have about a 35 percent chance of recurrence.

The results sound encouraging, but Fuchs is hesitant to make recommendations to patients until the results are confirmed in other studies.

“If you are a coffee drinker and are being treated for colon cancer, don’t stop,” he said. “But if you’re not a coffee drinker and wondering whether to start, you should first discuss it with your physician.”

An analysis of the study results by Fuchs and his colleagues showed that the lowered risk of cancer recurrence and deaths was entirely due to caffeine and not other components of coffee. He said it’s not clear why caffeine has this effect and the question needs further study.
One hypothesis is that caffeine consumption increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin so less of it is needed, which in turn may help reduce inflammation – a risk factor for diabetes and cancer, Fuchs said.

While there are many valid concerns about consuming excessive caffeine, the health benefits of coffee are numerous and significant. Moderation is, of course, key to a healthy, balanced diet and should always apply to all our food and beverage choices. It does appear, though, that our cup of morning joe is something we can feel good about consuming.

Is coffee the key to better cognitive functioning as we age?

0C07226D00000578-2987126-image-a-36_1425981691602For decades, people have tried to find methods of retaining youth. We work out to improve our physical functioning and our health. We try to eat foods that will do the same. We concentrate on finding products that will reduce the wrinkling of our skin and the thinning of our hair. At the end of the day, though, can’t help but think that healthy aging is defined by brains that function well throughout the aging process. We can have smooth skin, boast a healthy weight and fit physique with a full head of hair, but at the end of the day, what we really want is to know that we’ll retain our memories and our thought processes regardless of our age.

A study found possible links between coffee intake and improvement of cognitive abilities in seniors.

The risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) seemed to decrease for people “who consistently drank about one or two cups of coffee per day.” Overall, however, researchers found that “older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee as well as coffee drinkers who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI” compared to coffee drinkers who kept their intake consistent and moderate.

So how does coffee effect neurological health? Authors of the study believe that the caffeine in coffee protects the brain from “the buildup of amyloid protein plaques, long linked to Alzheimer’s disease.” Researchers also found that moderate coffee drinking may help an older brain by increasing insulin sensitivity thereby “decreasing the risk for type 2 diabetes.”

Dr. Vincenzo Solfrizz, who led the study, noted more research would be needed to support the theory that coffee can combat mental decline.

“Larger studies with longer follow-up periods should be encouraged … so hopefully opening new ways for diet-related prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease,” the Italian reseachers at the University of Bari Aldo Moro, said.

Perhaps coffee is one component of the mythical fountain of youth. We’ll keep our eyes open for further research on this topic. In the meantime, these findings certainly give us yet another reason to enjoy another cup of morning joe. Maybe we ‘ll learn that our all-important morning coffee does a bit more for our brains than wake us up for any particular day. Quite a bonus for coffee lovers everywhere.

Coffee reduces the risk of liver cancer for heavy drinkers

coffee-ending1Coffee is an important part of the day for millions of people. It’s a necessary wake-up call in the morning. Unfortunately it’s gotten a bad reputation over the years because if its caffeine content. Recently though, we’ve been getting pretty consistent news on the health benefits of coffee. We’ve got more of that good news today, but its targeted to a specific segment of the population.

It turns out that regular coffee consumption can mitigate the damage caused by frequent drinking of alcohol.

The research survey, published by a group of scientist at the World Cancer Research Fund International, found out that drinking three or more alcoholic beverages a day is the threshold for a significant increase in the risk of acquiring liver cancer. However, the risk can be heavily negated if the heavy drinker treats himself/herself with a cup of coffee every day.

This came from an analysis of 34 scientific research studies involving liver cancer. The studies have a total of 8.2 million subjects and 24,500 of them were diagnosed with liver cancer.

“The finding provides the clearest indication to date of how many drinks actually cause liver cancer,” said Dr. Anne McTiernan of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle in a recently released report, referring to the 45 grams of alcohol or equivalent of three alcoholic drinks is a very probable cause of liver cancer.

The researchers are unsure how coffee decreases the risk of being diagnosed with liver cancer.

“Mechanisms that support a protective effect of coffee on liver cancer relate largely to studies in animals, although some human studies contribute to the evidence. Both coffee and coffee extracts have also been shown to reduce the expression of genes involved in inflammation, and the effects appear to be most pronounced in the liver,” said the researchers.

Although unsure of the reasons, this study suggests that daily drinkers should lessen their alcohol intake to about 2 bottles of beer a day to ensure the non-development of liver cancer.

The study also had additional findings such as the link between Aflatoxins and liver cancer. Aflatoxins are a kind of mold and they can contaminate food such as cereals, peanuts, chilies, spices, and dried fruit. Contamination risks go higher if the food is not properly stored in warmer climates.

Even if this study links daily coffee consumption and daily alcohol consumption, it’s still important for people to limit the latter and go for a better lifestyle. Liver cancer ranks second in most cancer deaths with an estimated 24,550 deaths last year. is a huge proponent of moderation. But we also understand that findings like this about coffee can help provide a much needed, highly valuable insight into the control and treatment of liver cancer. As science learns more and more about the value of nutrition in the fight against and treatment of serious disease, we’re hopeful that we’ll see more and more natural solutions that can change all our lives for the better.

Starbucks gives non-dairy fans a reason to smile — coconut milk!

2D274907784499-starbucks.blocks_desktop_largeMore and more consumers are looking for non-dairy options for everything from their cereal to their coffee. And for some … soy milk has taken a back seat to other options they consider more healthful.  Coconut milk is becoming one of the favorite non-dairy options for so many. It tastes great and people are thrilled with the health benefits it offers.  While finding non-dairy options beyond soy milk has been a bit difficult for consumers, some forward-thinking coffee chains have been embracing the needs of the non-dairy consumer.   Starbucks is the latest chain to join the trend.

Starbucks announced it’s adding coconut milk to its menu starting later in February.

The coffee chain said customers have been asking for a non-dairy alternative to soy, and Starbucks chose coconut milk over almond milk because of fewer “allergen challenges,” according to a statement. But the brand’s latest option appears to have several additional benefits — including a potentially better cup of joe than other milk alternatives.

A Starbucks spokesperson told that more than 84,000 people voted that the brand should introduce another non-dairy alternative on its website, and it tested coconut milk in about 600 stores last year to see what customers thought.

Starbucks chose coconut milk because its “rich creaminess” tasted best with its coffee and espresso, the spokesperson added.

Alex Bernson, a barista for eight years who now writes for the Portland-based coffee website Sprudge, is no stranger to the alternative milk debate. He told that coconut milk is a good choice because it foams well — meaning you can have a real non-dairy cappuccino.

“Rice milk, you can’t steam at all. It gets hot but it doesn’t have any sort of foam,” said Bernson, who worked at several independent coffee shops. “Hemp doesn’t steam well and kind of tastes like milk that’s in the bottom of the bowl when you finish Lucky Charms.”

As for soy, Starbucks’ current only option for the non-dairy crowd, “it’s not the greatest,” Bernson said of the milk’s foaming abilities.

He questioned the mass market appeal of milks made from rice or hemp, for example, but noted coconut has already proven to be popular.

“There’s definitely been a coconut water craze in the last five years,” he said. “You see coconut oil used in lots of things, in holistic health and cooking.”

While soy has been a popular milk alternative for years, customers might be shifting away from soy milk for several reasons. Dana James, a nutritionist based in New York City, pointed out that it has more calories than milks made from nuts, like coconut.

“A cup of soy is 120 calories, versus a cup of coconut milk which can be anywhere from 40 to 60 calories,” James told Aside from additional calories, soy has been a controversial product for some time.

“It’s believed that 95 percent of soy is genetically modified, and it really raises concern for people,” James said.

Research into soy’s role in breast cancer is conflicted, but doctors suggest soy, like everything else, is okay in moderation. But while nut allergies are a well-known concern, some people may also have trouble tolerating soy.

Starbucks will offer coconut milk in its stores starting February 17. Just like soy milk, the option will cost customers 60 cents.

Starbucks joins a few other coffee chains who are catering to the needs of the substantial dairy-free population with an option other than soy milk. For instance, you can already find almond milk at Dunkin Donuts. is thrilled that Starbucks is recognizing the health needs of non-dairy consumers everywhere!

Women drinking four cups of coffee every day reduce their risk of endometrial cancer

dgb550-cups._V162759609_Morning coffee. There are many people who can just hear the phrase and actually smell it, taste it and savor it in their mind. It wakes us up and somehow soothes us at the same time. Better yet, we know that there are health benefits associated with our favorite morning beverage. knows, though, that many are concerned with caffeine and try to limit their daily consumption. And, certainly, no one likes the jittery, bouncing off the wall feeling we can easily relate to consuming too much caffeine. We’ve just learned of yet another health benefit from coffee and thought it important to share — especially with the women in our community.

A new study has shown that a cup coffee may be more than enough in reducing women’s risk to endometrial cancer; researchers having evaluated dietary habits in more than 2,800 women diagnosed with the disease. The study found out that women who drank up to four cups of coffee on a daily basis had an 18% lowered risk of contracting endometrial cancer compared to women who drank less.

One trial test concluded that 37 ounces of coffee on a daily basis reduced endometrial cancer risk by 18% with another one attributing a reduction on 26 ounces a day. Endometrial Cancer is the most common type of cancer on female reproductive organs in the U.S., affecting nearly 1 of 37 women in their lifetime.

Researchers found a link between Coffee and lowered risk of endometrial cancer but not the cause and effect; the study also did not differentiate between regular and decaf. On the other hand, the study did not show how coffee lowered the risk although it has been found to be efficient in reducing estrogen levels.

It is estimated that approximately 54,870 women may contract the disease this year, which could lead to 10, 170 deaths. The finding of the study validates earlier research works that showed coffee may be beneficial in decreasing endometrial cancer with additional research still needed to affirm the link between endometrial cancer and Coffee.

No specific causes have been attributed to endometrial cancer although, researchers maintain hormonal imbalances as well as diabetes and obesity as some of the probable factors that may accelerate the risk of getting the disease.

Researchers in the study assessed the link between 84 foods and nutrients with a view of ascertaining the risk to endometrial cancer. Some of the foods that the study found could be associated with disease include total fat, phosphorus, carbohydrates as well as yogurt, butter and potatoes.

This is great information. While there’s no cause and effect realized from this study, the results are still valuable.

So, if you’re a woman and a coffee lover who isn’t too sensitive to the caffeine content of multiple cups — drink up! You may be reducing your cancer risks while you enjoy your morning joe!

Coffee may help you avoid skin cancer

Coffee cup - cup of coffee 2 with clipping pathIf you’re one of the millions of people who just can’t get their morning started without a great cup of coffee, this blog post may be especially meaningful for you!

New research is beginning to show us that there might be many benefits to drinking this favorite bean-based hot beverage. Aside from a morning pick-me-up, according to new research from Yale University and the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), drinking coffee everyday could reduce your for malignant melanoma skin cancer.

More than 5 million people in the United States are affected by skin cancer each and every year, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, claims approximately one life every hour. However, despite being the most rare form of skin cancer, melanoma accounts for the majority of skin cancer related deaths. Eighty-six percent of melanoma skin cancer can be attributed directly to exposure from ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

But, if you are a coffee drinker, your chances of developing a malignant melanoma are reduced, according to lead researcher Erikka Loftfield. Loftfield and her team evaluated over 400,000 study participants over an average of 10.5 years, comparing the rates of melanoma to the frequency of foods. At the end of the study, the team of researchers determined that the more caffeinated coffee an individual drank each day, the lower their risk for developing malignant melanoma. For example, drinking four cups of coffee each day was enough to lower the risk by an incredible 20 percent.

“Higher coffee intake was associated with a modest decrease in risk of melanoma in this large US cohort study,” Loftfield says. “Additional investigations of coffee intake and its constituents, particularly caffeine, with melanoma are warranted…Because of its melanoma’s) high disease burden, lifestyle modifications with even modest protective effects may have a meaningful impact on melanoma morbidity.”

Loftfield emphasized that while there is a benefit to drinking coffee in regards to malignant melanoma, it should not be used as an excuse to go out in the sun without the proper protection.

“The most important thing that individuals can do to reduce their risk of melanoma is to reduce sun and UV radiation exposure,” Loftfield says.

Scientists continue to find more and more evidence that coffee may not be an unhealthy as originally believed. There is also substantial data available showing that coffee can reduce the risk of dying from scarring of the liver, lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer, and reduce the risk of tinnitus.

However, because of the adverse reactions some people have to the stimulant, it is important that you discuss with your doctor the benefits and the drawbacks of adding coffee to your daily routine before you make your next stop at the local coffee shop. loves getting good news like this! Your morning coffee may be doing more for you than kickstarting your day. The list of possible health benefits from coffee continues to grow … which may just give some of us a good reason to grab just one more cup!

Caffeine and ADHD: Why Dr. Pepper may actually help kids calm down

soda adhdSoda isn’t good for anyone. If you’re a consistent reader of the blog, you already understand our feelings regarding the consumption of nutritionally vacant, chemically concocted beverages. But research is determining that there are some actual benefits from caffeinated sodas — and caffeine in general.

New research has found the Dr. Pepper may be a good option to help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) focus.

Parents of children with ADHD may have known for years that soda can help curb behaviors in ADHD children. A quick search of the Internet shows a plethora of parents’ blogs touting how beneficial Dr. Pepper has been for their ADHD child. However, are their views valid?

According to various doctors, it’s not necessarily the Dr. Pepper that helps but more likely the caffeine. Caffeine acts as a stimulant when introduced to the body.

In children with ADHD, that stimulant tends to act as a behavioral control. What is interesting about the brand Dr. Pepper is that it is one of the most caffeine-rich drinks available on the market. It contains up to 10 teaspoons of sugar, as well as phosphoric acid, a compound that interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium and zinc — minerals that children with ADHD need the most.

So perhaps there is a bit more behind Dr. Pepper than any other caffeine-enriched beverage for ADHD children. Still, it appears that the largest benefit comes from the caffeine that is contained in Dr. Pepper.

Caffeine and its effects have been well studied and documented over the centuries. One researcher found that mythology describes how modern man first came to observe the effects of caffeine when his goat herd ate a coffee bush and became energized, not sleeping all night.

As bizarre as that seems, most of us know that caffeine works as a pick-me-up for most people. It operates slightly differently in people with ADHD.

In the mid-1970s through about the mid-1990s, researchers discovered some connection with caffeine and tobacco consumption as methods of treating ADHD, but they were ruled out as poor approaches. Later research suggests that some forms of caffeine and nicotine may actually provide partial remediation of ADHD symptoms because they can compensate the body for lower levels of mental arousal to enhance performance — i.e. focus, in individuals with ADHD.
Conventional treatments already capitalize on the use of psychostimulant medications to improve focus, so why not caffeine and nicotine? A pharmacological study of caffeine use specifically to treat ADHD failed significantly in effect. While it may have provided some relief, the results were not significant enough to tout its use as a regular treatment option.

It has been determined that prescription drugs meant for ADHD treatments provide far more relief and behavior control than caffeine; however, it was noted that caffeine is better than no treatment at all. Furthermore, caffeine may be the best option for adults with mild to moderate ADHD — especially for those who refuse to take traditionally prescribed ADHD medications.

ADHD affects approximately 5 percent of school-age children worldwide, and characteristics include hyperactivity, impulsivity and inattention. These impairments cause not only behavioral issues in the family and social arena but can reduce academic achievements that carry over into adulthood. That obviously leads to a lower quality of life.

If you have or suspect your child suffers from ADHD, you should reach out to your primary care physician. They can properly assess and diagnose you or your child and offer an appropriate course of treatment. That treatment may or may not include pharmaceuticals because each ADHD diagnosis is different.

So, for some dietary changes to modify ADHD behaviors may include adding caffeine in some form to a child’s diet in careful and controlled amounts. For the rest of our kids, let’s all remember that they really do have enough energy without caffeine. They don’t need it and it’s far too easy for them to consume too much.

Starbucks ushers in the holiday season with the new Chestnut Praline Latte

579f048cfc7741ed98c494b8d5eeb29bThe holiday season is officially upon us … and so are fast food holiday beverage introductions! Fall is the “pumpkin spice” everything season and the winter holidays are open to a whole host of flavor combinations in a cup.

This year, Starbucks has introduced the new Chestnut Praline Latte. Certainly sounds like the holidays, doesn’t it?  It calls to mind an old Christmas carol … “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose…” And if everyone loves hazelnut-flavored coffee, chestnuts will probably be a big hit.

So what’s going on with this new holiday latte?

While Starbucks has yet to release the ingredients, we can tell you how the Chestnut Praline Latte is being promoted on their website.

“Introducing our new seasonal sip – a tantalizing flavor sensation of Espresso, steamed milk, and caramelized chestnut flavor and spices. Topped with whipped cream and spiced praline crumbles. Stop in and sip your way to seasonal bliss.”

Even with the ingredient list unavailable, we can understand right away that the “caramelized chestnut flavor” is probably not something we should be excited about. We can’t really criticize what we’re not sure of, though, and will leave it at that.

We do know about the nutrition facts for the latte. We’re sharing the facts for the 16 ou. Chestnut Praline Latte with whole milk.

Calories:               370
Fat:                       17 grams
Saturated Fat:     10 grams
Sugar:                  39 grams

If you choose to start your morning with the Chestnut Praline Latte, you’ll be consuming 50% of your recommended daily intake of saturated fat with your coffee and just about 10 TEASPOONS of sugar. doesn’t really need to see an ingredient list for this one. We prefer actual chestnuts roasting on an open fire to put us in a holiday mood. The Chestnut Praline Latte can stay at Starbucks.

Caffeine wakes up your memory!

For generations, coffee drinkers have attested to the idea that their favorite hot beverage helps “keep them sharp.” Tea drinkers have insisted that a hot steamy cup is more than just comforting, it’s a “pick me up,” too. A new study suggesting that caffeine might actually enhance memory could be a reasonable explanation for those claims.

There are many ways people consume caffeine, including in coffee, tea, soda and chocolate, says the study’s lead author Michael Yassa. It doesn’t matter what the source is, the effect of caffeine will likely be the same, he says.
Yassa and colleagues at Johns Hopkins University recruited 160 young, healthy participants, who did not regularly consume caffeinated products. The participants studied a series of images, then five minutes later, took either 200 milligrams of caffeine in tablet form, about the amount of caffeine in a strong cup of coffee, or a placebo.

The next day, participants were asked to identify images they had seen the day before. Some images were new, and some were similar but not exactly the same. For example, if they were shown a picture of a yellow rubber duck originally, the next day, it was a picture of a rubber duck that was shorter and thicker, says Yassa, who was at Johns Hopkins when the study was conducted but now is an assistant professor of neurobiology and behavior at the University of California-Irvine.

Findings published in the journal Nature Neuroscience: The people who consumed caffeine were more likely to correctly identify the similar items as slightly different from the original picture. The brain’s ability to recognize the difference between two similar but not identical items reflects a deep level of memory discrimination, Yassa says.

Another example of pattern separation is remembering where one’s car is parked today vs. yesterday, he says. “This type of discrimination is involved in every facet of memory,” Yassa says.

The researchers also had participants consume 100 milligrams and 300 milligrams of caffeine and found 100 milligrams was not effective at getting the memory boost, Yassa says. The 300-milligrams dose was no more effective than 200 milligrams, and at the higher amount, people started to report some side effects such as headaches and feeling jittery, he says. “The 200-milligram might be the most optimal dose to get this memory boost.”

One strong cup of coffee might contain 200 milligrams of caffeine, he says. A typical espresso has 80 milligrams, so a double-shot latte will have 160 milligrams, he says.

Other research has found that low doses of caffeine have beneficial effects on attention and focus, Yassa says. A few studies on caffeine’s effect on humans have found little or no effect on long-term memory retention, but numerous studies in animals have shown that caffeine has a beneficial effect, he says.

While this study is encouraging, he cautions that high doses of caffeine can have negative effects, such as anxiety, increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and headaches. “I’m not going to stop drinking my coffee, but it’s important to be aware of the costs and benefits,” he says. “Drinking coffee late at night is not going to be helpful for most people.”

Everyone in the community is aware of the negative effects of overdoing caffeine. But we also know there are plenty of coffee and tea drinkers out there who will appreciate the findings of this study. It’s another good reason to enjoy their favorite morning brew, especially in these chilly winter months!