Coffee Vs. Energy Drinks: Which is the Clear Winner for Health?
It's a fact: caffeine is one of the most widely consumed substances in the world, found naturally in black and green teas, coffee beans and cacao. While many people, like me, turn to black coffee for their daily energy boost (plus coffee's plethora of health benefits), others choose one of the numerous canned energy drinks that are heavily marketed to today's consumers.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 34% percent of adults ages 18-24 regularly consume energy drinks. Many of these beverages are misleadingly marketed as dietary supplements, confusing the average consumer. Medical experts warn that long term use of energy drinks is associated with numerous adverse health effects. Use in patients with certain health risk factors (such as anxiety or heart disease), or overuse may be associated with an increased potential for developing adverse symptoms. Studies have warned about potential negative impacts on children's developing bodies as well. (Warning: if you prefer to jump to the reasons coffee is better, skip the science section next.)
Health Risks Associated with Energy Drinks Per Research:
- Mental health observations - Increased stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, risky behaviors, and lower academic achievement
- Impact on dental health - Increased dental decay and tooth erosion
- Metabolic impact - Increased risk of metabolic diseases, specifically type 2 diabetes and obesity
- Heart significance - Increased systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increased heart rate and irregular rhythm
- Sleep consequences - More reported sleep dissatisfaction, increased tiredness/fatigue, later bedtime, increased headaches,
Reasons to Choose Coffee Over Energy Drinks:
As if the above health risks weren't enough, some people may still need more information to wean off of these dangerous beverages. See our article on the Secret Benefits of the Coffee Buzz for additional reasons to consider switching to organic, mold-free Cardiology Coffee!
- Calories - Black coffee contains just 2 calories per serving as compared to an average of 110 (empty) calories in many energy drinks. These extra empty calories can add up quickly to extra fat around the midsection and contribute to obesity.
- Excess Synthetic vitamin dangers - Some of the popular energy drinks on the market today contain extremely high levels of synthetic B3 (niacin) and B6, which in excess, are known to cause gastrointestinal problems, skin conditions, liver toxicity, nerve damage, and even blurred vision.
- Caffeine content- While caffeinated coffee does naturally contain on average 90 mg of caffeine per 8 oz, energy drinks often have upwards of 200 mg per serving. (This is about the equivalent of 2.5 shots of espresso!) Furthermore, this canned caffeine is served up synthetically in an artificially manufactured beverage without the beneficial compounds and antioxidants present in coffee. Synthetic caffeine is a much less expensive alternative to natural plant-based caffeine, and is manufactured to be highly potent, which can be detrimental to your health. Synthesized caffeine, unlike natural caffeine found in coffee, is absorbed more quickly, potentially causing anxiousness and a quicker, harsher crash.
- Amino acid effect- Taurine, an amino acid, is an ingredient commonly found in most brands of energy drinks. Taurine is essential in several of the body's metabolic processes and supports neurological development and regulates minerals and water homeostasis in the blood. Too much taurine, especially when combined with caffeine, however, can have negative effects on the adolescent brain, according to research.
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners- Coffee is naturally sugar-free and remains healthy as long as you don't ruin it with harmful creamers and syrups. (See our article on 5 Things You Should Never Add to Your Coffee.) On the other hand, some large energy drinks contain up to 21 teaspoons of sugar, often in the dangerous form of high fructose corn syrup! This is a devastating amount of sugar for both dental and metabolic health. If regularly consumed the high sugar content in energy drinks can lead to weight gain and obesity, increasing your risk of heart and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancers. Those brands which cut out sugar are filled with dangerous artificial sweeteners, which are known carcinogens and disruptors of a healthy gut biome.
So, what's the bottom line? Depending on which energy drink you buy, you may end up with significantly more caffeine, sugar and chemicals than you'll find in a cup of coffee. Plus, the negative impacts on your health may not be what you are looking for. It's just not worth the risk.
If you're looking for a healthy energy drink, we recommend brewing an organic, mold and toxin-free cup of your favorite roast of Cardiology Coffee. What better pick-me-up is there that's also great for your health?
This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our affiliate policy.