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Caffeine - how much?

Last Updated: 17 January 2019








Caffeine - how much?

We’re often being told to ‘drink less coffee’ and ‘cut back on the caffeine’, yet is there any real science to suggest that caffeine is detrimental to health? And should we be aiming to ditch the coffee this New Year? 

The evidence 

It’s claimed that caffeine (found in coffee, tea, colas, hot chocolate, energy drinks and some painkillers and supplements) causes anxiety, heart palpitations and poor quality sleep. Yet at the same time we’re reading that tea and coffee can help to lower blood pressure and even reduce risk of certain cancers. So what should we believe? And how much is too much? 


The advice from the Food Standards Agency is that single doses of caffeine up to 200mg (three cups of instant coffee or a large filter coffee) and daily intakes of caffeine up to 400mg do not raise safety concerns. Yet it’s also been shown that anxiety levels can increase with around 3 cups of instant coffee, and just 100mg (a couple of cups of instant coffee or a small filter coffee) is enough to affect sleep in sensitive individuals. 


In the long term, a few studies have found beneficial effects of a moderate intake of both tea and coffee on risk of stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers - yet it’s likely that this is due to the antioxidants found in these drinks rather than the caffeine itself. 


So the overarching message is, enjoy your daily brew, and no need to skip on your Joe - just avoid the creamy, sugary lattes and iced coffees that could add unnecessary ‘empty’ calories to your day.


Written by Ruth Tongue

(MSc Nutrition)

1. http://foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/generalissues/Pages/Caffeine.aspx
2. http://www.sleephealthfoundation.org.au/fact-sheets-a-z/262-caffeine-food-alcohol-smoking-and-sleep.html

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