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Joan Kortbein: Is caffeine safe?

Joan Kortbein: Is caffeine safe?

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More than 80% of Americans drink at least one caffeinated drink daily. Caffeine is found in coffee beans and tea plants and is considered a natural stimulant. You can begin to feel the effect of caffeine about 20 minutes after drinking a cup of coffee. Moderate caffeine intake of up to 400 mg daily for adults is considered safe, according to the Food and Drug Administration. That’s about four cups of regular coffee or 10 cans of soda, although caffeine content varies. Remember, travel and other types of coffee mugs are larger, so you may be drinking two or three cups of coffee in just one mug.

FDA guidelines require manufacturers to label products that contain caffeine, but not how much they contain.

There is no recommended limit for caffeine, but too much caffeine can have serious effects. Potential dangers of excessive caffeine intake include anxiety, trouble sleeping, irregular heartbeat, headaches, and elevated blood pressure.

Severe reactions can result when caffeine is combined with certain medications and alcohol. Consuming 500 mg of caffeine in a single dose has even resulted in death. Remember that some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

Caffeine is available in powder or liquid form, but these can contain about the same amount of caffeine as 28 cups of coffee in a single teaspoon!

Potential benefits of moderate caffeine intake include improved alertness, mood and short-term memory and reduced risk of heart, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s diseases.

Coffee contains antioxidants that can protect the cells in your body from negative effects of stressors like tobacco smoke and pollution. Studies done on the benefits of caffeine have been done on unsweetened coffee and tea, so sugar and creamers may reduce the benefits. Also, make sure you use a filter when brewing coffee, which acts to remove a compound in the coffee called cafestol that is known to increase LDL or “bad” cholesterol. French press coffee is an example of this.

Cilantro Lime Roasted Cauliflower

Makes 6 servings

3 cups chopped fresh or frozen cauliflower

½ cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. garlic

1 Tbsp. cumin

½ tsp. pepper

2 Tbsp. lime juice

½ cups chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 350° F. In large mixing bowl combine olive oil, garlic, cumin and pepper. Add cauliflower; mix well to coat. Spread coated cauliflower on full baking pan in single layer. Bake for 10 minutes; stir and bake for five minutes longer or until it is browned on the edges and crisp-tender. Stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 170 calories, 15 grams fat, 1 gram protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 20 mg sodium

Blackened Cod

Makes 6 servings

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. butter

6 (4 oz.) cod fillet, thawed

1 ½ tsp. garlic powder

1 ½ tsp. onion powder

1 ½ tsp. paprika

½ tsp. ground thyme

1 ½ tsp. cumin

1 ½ tsp. chili powder

½ tsp. dried oregano

Combine spices in small bowl until well mixed. Pat cod dry. Ten minutes before cooking, rub seasoning into fish coating entirely. Heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat on flat top grill or pan. Add fish. Cook four minutes per side or until blackened with minimum internal temperature of 155° F.

Nutrition analysis per serving: 140 calories, 5 grams fat, 20 grams protein, 2 grams carbohydrates, 0 grams fiber, 85 mg sodium


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