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10 things you didn't know about coffee

Most of us consume caffeine every day. You know this is especially true if you are in recovery. Whether it is your cup of coffee, your green tea, or your energy drink we are consuming it. You may even think you know everything there is to know about your beverage but the truth is, how much do you really know about it?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant that makes you feel more awake. That is a given. In moderate doses caffeine can also offer health benefits such as boosting memory, concentration and mental health. You probably already knew that too. Coffee, specifically, is a major source of caffeine and has a ton of perks too including a possible decreased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (that you might not have known).

Caffeine does have a downside too though. In excess amounts, caffeine can trigger a fast heart rate, insomnia, anxiety and restlessness. Also caffeine can cause withdrawal if you abruptly stop ingesting it. Some of the withdrawal symptoms are headaches and irritability.

So what about all the other stuff? Well, we’re getting to that. Below are 10 not as well known facts about one of the most common drugs in the world- caffeine.

1.       Decaf is NOT the same as caffeine free

If you think switching to decaf later a night or in the afternoon means you are skipping the caffeine, then think again. A journal of analytical toxicology report looked at nine different kinds of decaffeinated coffee and determined that all of them but one had caffeine. The doses of caffeine ranged from 8.6mg to 13.9 mg. A regular cup of coffee usually has around 95 to 200mg. A 12 ounce can of coke has around 30 to 25 mg.

So if someone drinks two or three cups of decaf coffee they still are consuming quite a big of caffeine.

2.       Caffeine takes a long time to kick in

Not according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. It actually takes about 30 minutes to an hour for caffeine to reach its peak level in the blood. The body typically eliminates half of the caffeine in three to five hours, and the remainder lingers on for about eight to fourteen hours. Some people, especially those who don’t drink caffeine regularly, are more sensitive than others.

This is why it is recommended to abstain from caffeine at least eight hours before you go to bed to avoid staying up all night.

3.       Caffeine doesn’t affect everyone in the same way

The body could potentially process caffeine differently based on gender, race, and even birth control use. According to a report New York Magazine printed, women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men. Smokers process caffeine twice as quickly as nonsmokers do. And women taking birth control pills metabolize caffeine at one-third the rate that women who aren’t on the pill do. Asians may metabolize caffeine more slowly than people of other races.

4.       Your red bull doesn’t have more caffeine than coffee

Just by the definition of the two beverages, you would think that energy drinks would pack a ton of caffeine into their cans. But the most popular brands of energy drinks actually have considerably less caffeine than an old-fashioned cup of black coffee. An 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull, for example, has about 76 to 80 milligrams of caffeine, whereas a cup of black coffee has 95-200mg of caffeine in it. What energy drinks do have that coffee doesn’t is the other chemicals that are really hard to pronounce as well as ton of sugar.

5.       Your dark roast coffee actually has less caffeine than the light roast

Many people are under the belief that a stronger, richer flavored coffee indicates a heavier dose of caffeine, but the truth is light roasts actually are packing more of a “wake up” than the dark roasts. Why? The process of roasting burns off caffeine. This means that if you are looking for that wake up go with a light roast. For those looking for a less intense caffeinated buzz, go for the dark roast java.

6.       Caffeine is found naturally in more than 60 plants

Coffee beans aren’t the only thing with caffeine in them. Tea leaves, kola nuts, and cocoa beans all have caffeine. Caffeine is found in the leaves, seeds and fruits of a wide variety of plants. Caffeine can also be manmade and added to things.

7.       Not all coffee has the same amount of caffeine (Starbucks for instance)

Not all coffee is created equal. According to a report from the Center of Science in the Public Interest, popular brands of coffee were put to the caffeine test. McDonald’s for instance had 9.1 mg of caffeine per fluid ounce while Starbucks; Starbucks packed more than double that at a full 20.6mgs of caffeine per fluid ounce.

One study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology by researcher Bruce A. Goldberger of the University of Florida College of Medicine shed light on the variability of caffeine content. His research found that 16 ounces of caffeinated coffee from Starbucks had 100 milligrams more of caffeine than the same serving size from Dunkin’ Donuts. The study also found that Starbucks’ caffeinated breakfast blend, purchased at a Florida store, varied greatly in its caffeine content from day to day. One day, a 16-ounce cup had 259 milligrams of caffeine. Another day, the same size coffee contained 564 milligrams.

8.       Americans consume about 200mg of caffeine a day

According to the FDA, 80 percent of US adults consume caffeine each day, with an individual intake of about 200mg of caffeine. In other words that means the average US adult drinks about two five ounce cups of coffee or about four sodas.

There are other estimates that put the number of milligrams at about 300 but regardless both numbers fall in the moderate range of caffeine consumption which is about 200-300 mg. Daily doses of more than 500-600 are considered heavy and that’s when problems start to show up.

9.       The United States doesn’t consume the most coffee

Finland is the country with the highest amount of caffeine consumption. The average adult in Finland downs about 400mg of caffeine each day. Around the world about 90 percent of people use caffeine in some form. (according to the FDA)

10.   You can find caffeine in lots of things

According to an FDA report, more than 98 percent of our caffeine comes from beverages. But those aren’t the only places we get caffeine. For example, chocolate; chocolate contains only about 5 mg of caffeine but it is there. Also, some medications also have caffeine like Excedrin (combining caffeine and a pain reliever can make it 40% more effective and can also help the body to absorb it better).

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