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How Many Cups of Coffee is Healthy? Is it the Same with an Energy Drink?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By a show of hands, how many of you have had some form of caffeine today? Okay seriously, it’s a legitimate question. Are you just starting with the first cup of coffee or is this your third energy drink before lunch? For the longest time now, caffeine has taken over most college students’ lives. The image of a student pulling an all-nighter wouldn’t be complete without the classic cup of coffee sitting right next to them. How good is caffeine intake though and how much of it should we really be having?

Let’s start with the good old classic cup of joe. Many studies over the years have come out, claiming that coffee is good for you, in moderation, where others have shown it could be dangerous. So, what’s the real answer? Harvard did a case study in 2021 covering this topic.

“A moderate coffee intake—about 2–5 cups a day—is linked to a lower likelihood of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver and endometrial cancers, Parkinson’s disease, and depression. It’s even possible that people who drink coffee can reduce their risk of early death.” -Frank Hu, Chair of the Department of Nutrition.

Since I am a proud drinker of coffee myself it seems that I’m in the clear. Although when ordering at a Dutch Bros., they add lots of milk and sugar to my drink to make me like it. The consumption of sugar every day in my morning coffee could be harmful to me if I’m not careful. So, as you head out the door, make sure your diet is also being balanced with something nutritious along with your sweet coffee. Drinking a black coffee would probably be the healthiest, even if it doesn’t taste the best.

As for the energy drinkers, you might be in an entirely different boat. We are no longer talking about a bean that is growing out of the ground, which is turned into wake-up juice, instead this comes out of a can. A professor covered this topic back in 2016.

“These drinks are generally stimulants and can put a demand on the heart,” says Mohamad Moussa, MD, an associate professor in the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Science. She also notes that these drinks are much higher in sugar than the average person should be taking a day. “Most energy drinks pack about 27 to 31 grams of sugar per eight ounces. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar (six teaspoons) per day for women, and 36 grams of sugar (nine teaspoons) a day for men.” -Moussa

These are not a viable alternative to a cup of coffee. As I walk around campus in the morning though I always see at least one or two people with an energy drink in their hands. If they have one every day what might that be doing to their health? Just because you are in college doesn’t mean you’re not still growing, and good things should be put into your body whenever you can. I am not saying that you should drink a coffee with six shots in it because you’re trying to replace the energy drink, but what happens if five or ten years down the road you wake up and you aren’t feeling good because of the caffeine intake throughout your younger years. The rough intake of caffeine in America per day ranges from 110-260 mg. While that is still nowhere near the limit of 400, it isn’t helpful consuming four or five cups of coffee or energy drinks.

Allowing yourself a healthy diet and plenty of rest is the best advice I can give for the start of this new semester and year. I know that caffeine has become like a best friend to most of us. I just ask that when you find yourself at the counter for your third vanilla latte or your second blue raspberry stampede, stop and think, is this something I really need?

My name is Lauren Kohut and I am from Colorado Springs. I love all things written. When I am not writing, I am reading or hiking through a backwoods trail in the Colorado mountains and the Arizona foothills. I am a wannabe country girl and if I could I would spend all my Saturdays on a dirt road blasting Scotty McCreery. I love to write and am super excited to be writing for HerCampus!
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