Healthy Eating


Caffeine and Alcohol

Bottom Line: Don't overdo it

Wine Glasses
Not too many!
Moderation is the key

You may have heard the term the Golden Mean before? The philosopher Aristotle called the Golden Mean the “felicitous middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency.” In other words, not too much and not too little. Don't worry: we're not trying to turn this into a lecture on ancient Greek philosophy. We just think it's a great way of conceptualizing how caffeine and alcohol should fit into a healthy diet.

Alcohol: Moderate drinking of alcohol seems to be good for the heart and circulatory system, and may help protect against type 2 diabetes and gallstones. Yet heavy drinking is one of the major causes of preventable death in this country.

Coffee: Recent studies have linked moderate consumption of caffeine with increased protection from certain forms of cancer, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. Yet over indulgence in caffeine can lead to anxiety, nervousness, the “jitters,” sleep loss and more seriously, could contribute to heart tremors and high blood pressure (hypertension).

Finding the Golden Mean with Caffeine and Alcohol

What is “moderate”? Well, consensus says no more than around one to two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women, a drink being 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1½ ounces (a shot) of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey). TIP: If you can make that drink red wine, you're even better off because red wine contains substances in addition to alcohol that may prevent blood clots and relax blood-vessel walls.

Most experts consider somewhere around 300 mg. of caffeine or two medium cups of coffee “moderate.”

A Note On Green Tea

If you can make your daily caffeinated beverage green tea, you're in great shape. Not only is the caffeine in green tea easier for your body to assimilate (you're less likely to get the sleeplessness and anxiety associated with drinking too much coffee) but green tea is loaded with other benefits. University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels, as well as improving the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol.

If you can remember that caffeine and alcohol are good for you, but only in moderation, you're golden.

Email Icon Print Icon Print This| Newsletter Icon Free Newsletter| Add to