Caffeine is a stimulant drug that also acts like a mild diuretic. It can be an addictive substance so you would want to avoid dependency. I don’t know that you have to avoid it, but I would recommend less than 12-18 oz of a caffeinated beverage per day. For some of you, that won’t be a problem, but for others, you may want to try to cut back a bit.

There are two ways to get your caffeine fix, coffee or tea. Coffee has about 120 mg of caffeine in a 6 oz cup so it is definitely an efficient way to get your caffeine. However, whether caffeinated or not, coffee has substances called diterpenes that can be hazardous to your health. They will raise your Total Cholesterol, your LDL (or bad) Cholesterol and your homocysteine levels (an amino acid that can build to toxic levels for several reasons, increasing your risk for heart disease). The diterpenes in coffee will have little effect if you keep coffee consumption to less than 3- 6 oz cups per day. Exceeding that recommendation may increase your risk for heart disease. There is some evidence that suggests that moderate coffee consumption can reduce breast cancer risk as well as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cirrhosis and gout. An overall healthy diet and exercise routine can reduce the risk for those illnesses as well.
Tea may be the better vehicle for caffeine since it is accompanied by antioxidants. Oolong (50 mg caffeine), Black (40 mg), White (20 mg ), and Green (10 mg) are the most common types. Green has been shown to have the most antioxidants (and the least amount of caffeine). You should be aware though that the process of taking out the caffeine in tea will also strip it of its antioxidants. Therefore, it is better to drink caffeinated tea over decaf. There are really no downsides to drinking tea if done in moderation.
Emily Fonnesbeck RD,CD