The Pros & Cons Of Caffeine

scattered coffee beans leading to a cup of coffeeCaffeine is a stimulant and a drug. You know this. Consume too much, and you’ll find yourself addicted and at-risk for associated health problems. You probably know this, too. But at the same time, study after study has shown that moderate consumption of caffeine-rich foods such as coffee, tea, and dark chocolate can help lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer — partially because these foods are all rich sources of disease-fighting antioxidants.

But before you pour another cup of coffee, pop open a soda or toss back an energy drink, here are some caffeine facts you need to know:

1. Caffeine just might be good for you.

The health benefits of caffeine are far-reaching — as long as it’s consumed in moderate amounts, says Rania Batayneh, MPH, a nutritionist and owner of Essential Nutrition for You, a nutrition consulting firm. “Caffeine stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that activates an area of gray matter in the brain responsible for alertness and productivity,” she says. And because dopamine regulates mood, a cup of coffee can improve your mood, at least temporarily. As a stimulant, caffeine has also been shown to boost endurance and speed in workouts, though not all experts recommend consuming caffeine pre-workout.