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Can You Drink Coffee on the Mediterranean Diet?

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Many of us couldn’t start our day without a cup of coffee. And for those who are following a diet, most will continue to drink coffee.

However, there are different studies that highlight both benefits and negatives of drinking coffee. The Mediterranean diet also tries to be as healthy as possible and based on scientific principles.

This article will cover whether you can drink coffee on the Mediterranean diet and other factors to consider whilst drinking coffee and dieting.

Can You Drink Coffee on the Mediterranean Diet?

The short answer is that the Mediterranean diet doesn’t completely exclude any food or drink – rather, it parts limits on how much.

Therefore, you can absolutely continue drinking your coffee without any guilt.

However, the diet does encourage you to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Therefore, you should try and reduce the number of teaspoons of sugar you add to your coffee or use a sweetener sparingly.

Dairy is also allowed but in some moderation. Therefore, it’s best not to have too much cream and other high-fat dairy products with your coffee and possibly consider black coffee instead.

The most important guideline you’ll see throughout is simply to exercise moderation. Enjoy your coffee if you’re not using too much sugar and dairy and even an occasional treat is fine — but you don’t want to make it routine.

Benefits of Drinking Coffee

Better Energy Levels

The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant that can help reduce fatigue and increase energy levels.

One small study found that the time to exhaustion during a cycling exercise increased by 12% (1). Another study found similar effects, where subjects playing golf increased subjective energy levels and reduced feelings of fatigue (2).

May Protect from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

Various studies find that people who drink coffee have a lower risk of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Studies find coffee drinkers may have a 65% reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s (34, 5) and a 32-60% reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s  (678).

May Lower the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is identified by high blood sugar levels as a result of resistance to insulin.

Studies find people who drink coffee may have between a 23-67% reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes (9).

One large review of 18 studies with 450,000+ associated one cup of coffee per day with a 7% reduction in type 2 diabetes (10).

Drawbacks of Drinking Coffee

Can Disrupt Sleep and Cause Anxiety

Since caffeine is a stimulant, people can have issues sleeping if insufficient time has passed since consuming it (11).

If you are having problems, it’s worth quitting coffee later in the day, say before 2:00 p.m.

Too much caffeine can cause jitteriness, heart palpitations, and anxiety (12). If you are sensitive to caffeine, it’s best to avoid coffee altogether.

Can Lead to Withdrawals

Consuming too much caffeine can lead to addiction and missing cups of coffee can lead to withdrawals.

Increase consumption of caffeine results in tolerance over time, meaning larger doses are needed for the same effect (13).

Quitting coffee can cause withdrawal symptoms like headaches, brain fog, and irritability.

Changes to Make Drinking Coffee More Mediterranean Diet-Friendly

There are a few ways to make drinking coffee healthier:

  • Drink black coffee instead: removing the sugar and cream reduces the number of calories, fat, and sugar. Calories in drinks quickly add up, particularly if you’re drinking multiple coffees a day. If you don’t like the taste, then you can still add some milk, but watch out for the extra calories consumed.
  • Reduce sugar or replace it with sweeteners: 1 tsp of sugar contains 16 calories. This will add up over time. Sweeteners can help reduce the calories within coffee whilst keeping the sweet taste. They can also help if you have high blood pressure.
  • Try decaf coffee: although it won’t work as well as a stimulant, it can help you get to bed at night and improve your sleep, which has a slew of benefits, including weight loss.
  • Reduce your coffee intake: as stated previously, moderation is key. Although caffeine does have benefits, it also has drawbacks when it comes to disrupting sleep. If you’re struggling for energy, try a healthy snack like fruit, nuts, or seeds instead of coffee.

To Sum Up

Coffee is a drink we don’t want to give up and is still allowed on the Mediterranean diet.

However, it’s best to moderate your consumption as caffeine can cause some side effects if consumed too much.

Reduce your added sugar or cream, try a decaf coffee or a black coffee to make it healthier and more Mediterranean-friendly.

Want Some Delicious Mediterranean Style Recipes?

If you’re looking for more information on the Mediterranean diet:

  1. Find more Mediterranean-style recipes on our website.
  2. Try our free 7 day Mediterranean diet plan with 20 recipes.
  3. Get our 4-week Mediterranean diet plan, Med in 28 plan, that makes following the Mediterranean diet a breeze!