Haendeler, who drinks six cups of coffee a day, says it can be part of a healthy lifestyle—but is no miracle cure. And she is quick to point out there are no shortcuts to good health. “If you hear about this study and decide to drink coffee but you do nothing else—no exercise, no proper diet—then, of course, this will not work,” she says. “You cannot simply decide, ‘Okay, I’m sitting here and drinking four, five or six cups of coffee and everything is fine.'”
While they say that the results support moderate coffee drinking as a relatively healthy habit, both Poole and Guallar say the findings don’t go far enough to prompt anyone to change their coffee-drinking habits in the hopes of improving their health. The study did not confirm, for example, that people who do not currently drink coffee should start adding a cup or two a day in order to lower their risk of getting heart disease or any of the other chronic conditions studied. The data also do not support the idea that current coffee drinkers should drink even more coffee to enhance whatever benefits they might be receiving. Too much coffee, the data suggest, starts to bend the benefit curve back down.
How it works: Antioxidants fight inflammation, an underlying cause of many chronic conditions, including arthritis, atherosclerosis and many types of cancer. They also neutralize free radicals, which occur naturally as a part of everyday metabolic functions, but which can cause oxidative stress that leads to chronic disease. In other words, antioxidants help keep us healthy at the micro-level by protecting our cells from damage. Finally, chlorogenic acid, an important antioxidant found almost exclusively in coffee, is also thought to help prevent cardiovascular disease.
Already think the benefits of coffee are endless? Well they pretty much are: It can even strengthen your DNA. A small 2014 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found drinking coffee regularly significantly reduced the oxidative damage in the body’s white blood cells, which can hurt your DNA. Instead, the coffee—dark roast, in this case!—helped keep the DNA strong.
We know, we can’t believe it is butter in there, either. Buttered (a.k.a. “Bulletproof”) coffee has been making celebs, athletes, and health bloggers alike get friendlier with fats. Why? Some claim this buttery buzz gives them more energy, improves brain function, and aids in weight loss—particularly if these folks are following a ketogenic diet already.
According to Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, one of the easiest ways to make sure your coffee is brewed in a healthy way is to consider how you’re filtering it. Those reusable filters might be tempting (and sure, provide less waste), but using recyclable paper filters has an added bonus for your nutrition. “Filtering coffee with paper removes two compounds, cafestol and kahweol, that raise both total and LDL cholesterol levels,” she explains. Here’s how coffee can help you learn.
It’s easy to get carried away ordering fancy-sounding lattes, but consuming them daily can greatly increase your intake of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. However, you don’t have to switch to black coffee just yet. There are plenty of ways to spice up your coffee without doing it at the expense of your health. Try these seven coffee hacks to help you have a healthier coffee and an energized morning.
A 2016 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found drinking coffee might be able to help you lose weight thanks to caffeine’s ability to increase thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and lipolysis. But more research still needs to be done, so don’t count as your Starbuck runs as a way to drop the pounds. Especially if you’re drinking something that’s not simple, black coffee.
In the 1980s and 1990s several prospective cohort studies were done to investigate the correlation between coffee and diabetes. Many of those studies reported that there is an inverse dose-dependent association with the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This means that for reasons still unclear, all those research studies found that the more coffee people with normal blood sugar drank, the less risk appeared for developing Type 2 diabetes. Several constituents in coffee might be responsible for these consistent findings.
The popularity of the Bulletproof Diet is undeniable. But what started the craze was the world-famous Bulletproof Coffee. By simply adding grass-fed butter to black coffee, you will get a nice brain-boosting buzz — as well as all the health benefits of grass-fed butter. Try blending the coffee with a handheld blender or latte frother if you are stuck with globs of butter on top of your coffee.
Similar to adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil is loaded with healthy fats, specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs have been linked to improved weight loss in multiple scientific studies. When it comes to brain health, coconut oil may also be largely beneficial. Some studies have examined the potential links between reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates and daily ingestion of coconut oil.
Basically, I blend coconut oil and grass-fed organic unsalted butter (yes … butter) into coffee with a dash of vanilla and sometimes a drop of stevia. The blender emulsifies the coconut oil and butter so the texture is more creamy than oily and it is a delicious way to get a boost of beneficial fats. This type of healthy coffee also gives much more extended energy throughout the day without making me jittery.
If you can’t go completely black with your coffee, try adding a small amount of stevia. While not 100% perfect, this choice is certainly better than consuming the artificial sweeteners and refined sugar which are usually found in most cups. Coconut sugar or organic maple syrup can also be used, but the real key here is adding a very small amount. Don’t go overboard!
I also occasionally like to add a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder (non-sweetened) to my coffee to make my own sort of mocha coffee (but without the loads of sugar in a typical mocha you'd get at the coffee shop, so just use a little stevia to sweeten). The added cocoa powder also gives you great taste and a good dose of extra healthy antioxidants (and cocoa is also known for helping to lower blood pressure!)
Long term consumption of coffee has also been shown to reduce, although moderately, the risk of stroke (38). Another study pointed out that drinking about five or six cups of coffee a day is associated with the greatest reduction (39) (36%) in stroke risk, and that coffee also contributes to overall reduction of cardiovascular mortality (a less scary way of saying “heart death”).
Hepatocellular cancer—which predominantly occurs in those who have chronic liver disease— is the most common form of liver cancer, and coffee can help reduce the risk of developing it. A 2017 study published in BMJ found it could be possible to see a 20 percent reduced risk by drinking one cup a day, 35 percent by drinking two, and 50 percent with five because of caffeine’s ability to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells.
So how much coffee is healthy, and how much is too much? Two to three eight-ounce cups per day is considered moderate; heavy coffee drinkers consume four cups or more daily. Remember, the amount of caffeine per coffee beverage varies depending upon the preparation and style of beverage. Eight ounces of brewed coffee may contain as little as 80 to as much as 200 mg of caffeine per cup (an “average” cup probably contains about 100 mg).
John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.
“It has not really been shown that coffee drinking leads to an increase in antioxidants in the body,” Lane tells WebMD. “We know that there are antioxidants in large quantities in coffee itself, especially when it’s freshly brewed, but we don’t know whether those antioxidants appear in the bloodstream and in the body when the person drinks it. Those studies have not been done.”
“For example, prior studies have suggested that variants in CYP1A2, (a gene) encoding the enzyme responsible for more than 95 percent of caffeine metabolism, may alter associations of coffee drinking with cardiovascular-related outcomes, with slower caffeine metabolizers having higher risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure) or having a myocardial infarction (heart attack) relative to their non-drinking counterparts, whereas faster caffeine metabolizers who drink coffee are at no or lower risk of these outcomes.”
If drinking a cup or two of coffee tends to make you feel good mentally, there’s a reason for that: A 2013 study published in the World Journal of Biological Psychiatry found drinking coffee actually acts as a mild antidepressant by boosting feel-good neurotransmitters in the brain. After examining 44,000 men and 74,000 women, they found a few cups of brew reduced the risk of suicide by 50 percent.
Cinnamon actually comes from the bark of a tropical evergreen called the Cinnamomum tree, and it has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any spice, according to research from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. It’s been known to reduce inflammation, help lower sugar and triglyceride levels in the blood, soothe nausea, and aid in fat burning. The antiviral and antibacterial properties in the spice are also said to boost your immune system (and ward off colds.) It’s also packed with manganese, iron, calcium.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that caffeine is dehydrating, one of the primary reasons why fitness experts recommend nixing coffee pre- and post-workout. However, recent research suggests that moderate caffeine consumption — up to about 500 mg, or about five cups per day — doesn’t dehydrate exercisers enough to interfere with their workout. In addition, coffee helps battle fatigue, enabling you to exercise longer.
When you’ve ordered a latte or a cappuccino at Starbucks, you’ve probably watched as the barista wipes down the steamer before whipping up a new cup. This is meant to fight bacteria, but you may be getting something extra in your drink that you probably don’t want. “What you don’t realize is that sanitizing solution ends up in your frothed milk! It’s not a ton, but it is there—a small amount on that wand for every frothed carafe! So avoiding lattes is a good choice if that concerns you,” Immer says. Or just prepare yours at home to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for. This is the healthiest coffee you can drink.
Black coffee, including espresso, has less than 10 calories per 8-ounce cup. If you want to cut calories and keep your coffee as healthy as possible, consider ordering a regular brew without any added ingredients. Black coffee can be bitter, but over time your taste buds will adapt to the bold flavor. If you're new to black coffee, here's a helpful beginner's guide to get you through the initial introduction from Manual Coffee Brewing.
"Caffeine for treatment of Parkinson disease" Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc, Anthony E. Lang, MD, Renato P. Munhoz, MD, Katia Charland, PhD, Amelie Pelletier, PhD, Mariana Moscovich, MD, Luciane Filla, MD, Debora Zanatta, RPh, Silvia Rios Romenets, MD, Robert Altman, MD, Rosa Chuang, MD and Binit Shah, MD. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318263570d August 1, 2012. Abstract. Accessed 15 December 2013.
Cardamom is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, because it helps neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine, but that’s not the only reason to add the spice to your java. A two-tablespoon serving has just 36 calories, is loaded with fiber, essential minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds; research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found cardamom contains compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells and stunt new cancer cell growth. Cardamom has also been known to improve blood circulation in the body, help control cholesterol, cure dental diseases, and infections like gonorrhea. It’s even been said to cure impotency, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.