Food or Beverage? Examining Coffee’s Classification

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In brief, yes, coffee is technically a food because of its nutritional components.

Black coffee, in particular, contains micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, potassium, sodium, riboflavin, niacin, and sodium.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that are essential for fighting off diseases and maintaining a healthy body.

That said, we can initially deduce that coffee is considered food. However, this may not be the conclusion if we dig deeper into this matter.

So, is coffee really food?

Let’s find out!

Is Coffee a Food or a Drink?

Coffee can be considered food and a drink.

Based on standard definition, food is anything that contains nutrients that helps ward off diseases and sustain growth. While a drink is a liquid that can be swallowed as refreshment or nourishment.

Coffee at its purest is nutritious and presents potential health benefits. It is a refreshment drink that can help you stay awake and energized for a short period of time depending on your tolerance.

So, in that sense, coffee can be both a drink and food.

What Type of Food is Coffee?

Coffee is a brewed drink that is obtained from roasted coffee beans.

Coffee can be consumed not only as a drink but also can serve as an addition to a wide variety of desserts and snacks.

As you know, food is made of nutritional elements and is classified into seven groups according to the main nutrients present in it. And yes, coffee belongs to the drinks group along with water, tea, and other drinks.

The descriptive definition of a functional food may not review coffee as food but if you consider the characteristics of the drink, it does contain several important supplements useful for your body functions.

In other words, coffee is a healthy and nutritious drink that can be considered a food too.

Watch this video to know more facts about coffee.

Other Facts About You Probably Don’t Know

Are Drinks Considered Food?

It depends on the kind of drink that we’re talking about.

To be considered as food, something should have enough nutrients in its component. For example, coffee, at its purest can be considered food because of its nutritious components.

Not all drinks can be considered food. Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks are not considered food because of their unhealthy components.

So, as a base knowledge, substances whether liquid, solid, concentrated, frozen, dried, or dehydrated in form can only be considered food if they have nutritional value.

With this in mind, your morning cuppa is considered food!

Is Coffee a Nutrient?

No, coffee is not a nutrient.

But riboflavin, vitamins, and the potassium present in the bean powder are nutrients.

This clarifies that food is what we eat or drink for getting energy while nutrients are supplements that are used by our cells to perform targeted functions.

This is where the fine line between coffee being food or not draws. MediCare articles review that food doesn’t offer all the essential nutrients that your body needs.

To get unique taste and flavors, you can add coffee as a complementary food besides your regular meals which should contain an adequate amount of proteins, minerals, and fibers.

Still, do not depend on coffee as a sole source of nutrition since it lacks several nutritional values.

Is Coffee a Functional Food?

Yes, coffee is a functional food.

Without question, it is the most frequently consumed functional food in the world.

A functional food provides benefits to the body beyond its basic nutrition. The components of functional food are said to reduce diseases. Therefore, coffee can be considered a functional food.

Coffee is rich in bioactive compounds such as chlorogenic acids, quinic acid, cafestol, trigonelline, melanoidins, and other antioxidants.

The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory supplements present in the coffee acts as the functional ingredient due to the presence of soluble dietary fiber and exhibits antioxidant activities.

On the contrary, there are paper reviews suggesting coffee isn’t considered a functional food despite its positive health benefits. The reason is, it does not fulfill some of the functional food criteria.

It’s natural to make some distinction between foods and drinks that we usually consume and label them differently.

Food and beverages are not mutually exclusive as you may think. Still, anything that adds nutritional value to your diet can be treated as food.

In the case of coffee, whether or not you consider it a functional food, keep in mind to drink moderately.

Is Coffee Considered Food When Taking Medicine?

Skip coffee when taking medication!

Based on the definition of food, coffee may not be considered food when taking medication.

It is wise to skip coffee when taking medication as it affects the absorption, metabolism and excretion of drugs which can lead to toxic reactions.

Coffee might reduce the absorption of medicine by up to 55% as revealed by studies.

Also, remember that the caffeine in the coffee is itself a stimulant that speeds up your central nervous system, accelerating certain metabolic functions in the body.

Drinking coffee along with medicines might cause serious problems including increased heartburn and irregular blood pressure.

Moreover, some prescribed drugs may keep that caffeine buzz in your body for a longer period, making you feel jittery.

If you are adding dairy products into your coffee, it’s better not to drink it right after having antibiotics to promote better absorption of the supplements.

So coffee can’t be considered as an ideal food while taking medicine.

I suggest consuming fruit or a glass of milk before taking medication for better absorption.

Is Coffee a Junk Food?

Yes, coffee can be considered junk food if it is mixed with several additives such as sugar, syrup, and cream.

Junk foods are categorized as foods having high sugar content, high fat, and little dietary fiber and vitamins.

The regular drip of coffee is a healthy source of refreshment but if you are adding additives like whipped cream, syrups, or milk, you’re losing its health benefits.

This is because the calories and sugar load up your drink and turn the coffee into a liquid form of junk food.

Regular black coffee has normal calories and impressive health benefits but if you are opting for mochas, lattes, or frozen blended drinks then it will significantly affect its functionality as a food.

So, keep your coffee healthy by taking it pure and with zero additives!

Is Coffee Brain Food?

Coffee can be considered a brain food if consumed healthily.

Coffee is considered to be a brain stimulant because the chemicals it contains that act as a block to certain chemicals such as adenosine that has a certain effect on our brain.

Studies show that coffee is linked to improved mental performance and a possible slow down with age-related mental decline.

Also, coffee can improve learning, mood, vigilance, and reaction time. In the long term, it may reduce brain conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

In addition, there are experts claiming coffee’s brain benefits does not depend on its caffeine content but on the compounds released while roasting. Still, further research is needed to prove such a claim.

Does Coffee Serve You a Complete Meal?

A complete meal for the body is consists of balanced nutrients from different varieties of food.

Coffee won’t serve you the same benefits as a healthy meal since it lacks certain important nutrients like fat, carbohydrate, and proteins essential for the body.

A healthy diet should consist specific portion of all the essential nutrients obtained from different sources.

So coffee can’t be considered as a complete meal for us. However, it can be consumed to complement other diets to balance it and add a refreshment kick.

Is Coffee Good Before or After a Meal?

A healthy breakfast may contain different types of fruits, oats, banana and can be complemented with a cup of coffee
Keep your diet balanced by consuming varieties of nutrients from different foods.

I’d say coffee is good after a meal for better digestion.

However, it is suggested to wait at least an hour before consuming a hot drink like coffee to allow the body to absorb the nutrients from your food.

Many people think the best outcomes from the consumption of coffee can be gained if it’s added as a part of the breakfast meal.

Breakfast is the most important meal for your body since it fuels up the body for the rest of the day.

A well-balanced diet is necessary for your daily breakfast. If you do not want to skip the regular coffee, try to pair it up with a bowl of freshly cut fruits or even a banana.

Drinking coffee at the start of the day is a routine to most people but we should remember that coffee has a certain level of acidity that may affect your stomach badly.

Drinking coffee on empty stomach might harm the stomach lining and cause indigestion.

So, it’s better to drink coffee after a meal. Also, try to avoid it after the afternoon since it might disturb your sleeping pattern if you are not tolerant to caffeine.

Can You Replace a Meal with a Cup of Coffee?

No, you shouldn’t replace a meal with a cup of coffee!

A very unwise decision to do if you consider it.

As mentioned earlier, coffee is not a meal replacement as it stimulates thermogenesis reducing your appetite for a time being.

It is a companion for a meal, not a replacement for the meal entirely.

Coffee may offer you certain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits from its regular consumption. The catch is, it won’t help you in getting the balanced nutrition needed for the proper functioning of the body.

When it comes to the type of nutrition that your body needs, coffee offers little benefits if not accompanied by other nutritious options.

Keep in mind, to promote health, your body needs a solid and healthy meal containing varieties of nutrients.

So, be sure to consume your cuppa with something that is nutritious.

The Bottomline

Coffee can be considered food depending on how it is made or consumed.

I’d say you can categorize it as “food” if you’re having it pure and no additives; and “junk food” if it contains unnecessary additives.

Moreover, coffee, in no doubt, is nutritious and beneficial to the body if consumed healthily. It contains essential nutrients that can boost cognitive functions and ward off diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Still, you shouldn’t just rely on coffee for full nutrition because it lacks other nutrients the body needs to perform its targeted functions.

Always consume coffee with a proper meal to reap its benefits. Even with nutrients being present in coffee, it is considered more as a companion to your food rather than a replacement for a meal.

It is also something that you should not consume with an empty stomach because it is acidic which might cause a problem on your digestive system.

Also, keep in mind to stay within the recommended limit to avoid the nasty side effects of caffeine.

Today the luxury of the occasion of having coffee has become a daily habit for ultra-modern people. So consume it along with a well-balanced meal to gain the best benefits of the drink.

Just eat whatever you want and be happy as long as your nutrient intake is balanced with the foods you are consuming.

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