All around the United States, and even in our school hallways, more and more teenagers are consuming a caffeine-filled drink of some kind. I see it everyday: Starbucks coffee cups and Red Bull cans. These beverages help students stay awake in class and focus on their assignments. In fact, caffeine is “the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world,” according to Authority Nation. But does it affect students’ health? Are energy drinks like Red Bull and coffee good for you, or are they adding to potential health problems later in the future?
Research shows coffee provides more benefits for your mind and body compared to energy drinks. That is, coffee which does not contain spoonfuls of sugar, milk, chocolate, etc. A cup of black coffee a day could actually keep the (future) doctor away! Coffee’s health benefits include but are not limited to:
- Increased brain activity
- Helps burn fat (By stimulating the nervous system, you have a better metabolism and oxidation as a result of drinking a cup of coffee. The fatty acids in your body are oxidized, separating the fatty acids from the tissue, which makes burning off those fatty acids easier.)
- Improves physical ability
- Less risk of Type II diabetes, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s (All three are a result of an increase in your metabolism and brain activity.)
- Less risk also of any liver cancers or diseases
- Contains nutrients needed for everyday life (Vitamins B1, B2, B3, Potassium and Manganese)
However, the extreme opposite is coffee can kill you if you drink 23 liters in a short period of time. But then, so is true of that much water. Coffee is also not for everyone. Pregnant women and those with caffeine sensitivity are advised to drink at the most one cup a day and only if it is absolutely necessary.
When it comes to energy drinks, there are many different brands that contain different ingredients. Some brands that are well known are:
- Red Bull
- 5Hour Energy
Energy drinks are a quick way to boost energy, and they are readily available in nearly every gas station. But compared to coffee, the caffeine punch is less (Red Bull 80mg versus black coffee 200mg), while sugar and sodium are off the charts. Red Bull has 27g of sugar, Monster 54g (13.5 tablespoons!) while black coffee has none. And Red Bull contains 140g sodium, Monster 180g versus 5g in black coffee. These health concerns related to energy drink consumption have also been reported:
- Cardiac arrest
- Increased anxiety
- Type II diabetes
- High blood pressure
To understand our Junior Class dependency and preferences surrounding caffeine beverages, I sent them an online survey. Out of 90 students surveyed, 55 or 61% of the class responded. Here are some of the results:
Most coffee drinkers order a Grande (medium) Starbucks coffee which is 12 ounces. Additives range from nothing (black coffee) to Java Chip Frappuccino with chocolate chips, milk and a creamy base (510 calories). So as a disclaimer, not all juniors drink simply black coffee; the additives diminish and even eliminate health benefits listed above.
The smaller percentage of students who prefer energy drinks were asked which brand they buy. The clear winner is Red Bull, but Monster (with extremely high sugar content) is next in line.
There’s no doubt teenagers love coffee and energy drinks. My advice is to be aware of health benefits and concerns as well as caloric, sugar and sodium content.
How do you feel about the results and information provided? Leave a comment down below!