The Healthiest Way To Drink Coffee

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The Healthiest Way To Drink Coffee
June 12
20:58 2016

It seems like the scientific community is constantly changing its opinion on the health benefits of coffee. There is ongoing debate about whether it’s a healthy choice, or if it should be avoided. It’s important to keep in mind that coffee contains over 1000 compounds aside from caffeine, therefore, being certain on its overall effect in the body can be complex. However, patterns have arisen in recent years of research studies and it appears that we are gaining more concrete knowledge on how and why we should be consuming our beloved cup of coffee.

The reason why we are all so concerned with the coffee story should come as no surprise. Over 65% of North Americans consume the beverage regularly, having an average of 2.8 cups per day. It is both a social and psychological part of our routines: espresso with friends or drip coffee at home with the weekend paper. The idea that this habit may be detrimental to our health is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Let’s review the research and determine the best way to ingest the world’s 2nd most consumed beverage.

How much?
Most studies on the negative health effects of coffee have been with moderate or high consumption. What does this mean? Typically more than 4-6 cups of coffee per day. However, it’s important to note that a ‘cup’ equates to approximately 6oz, and since most cafes serve the beverage in 12oz cups or larger, this can add up quickly.

A 2013 study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that consuming 1-2 cups per day had a neutral effect on all-cause mortality, while each subsequent cup slightly decreased your risk of death (by about 3% per additional cup consumed). Those over the age of 55 experienced a benefit up to 6 cups daily, while those under 55 should limit intake to a maximum of 4 cups.

Bottom line: coffee doesn’t shorten your lifespan, in fact, it may actually increase it.

What kind of coffee?
Should we be consuming espresso and other stove-top varieties, or are paper-filtered types better? A meta-analysis was conducted in 2000 to conclude whether coffee increased serum cholesterol and triglycerides. The results showed that filtered varieties trapped the oils (called terpenes) in coffee from getting into the final cup, whereas non-filtered types kept the oils in the liquid and raised lipid levels. However, if intake was kept below 3 cups per day, there was no significant change in serum cholesterol. Therefore, if you’re worried about your triglycerides and cholesterol levels, stick to the paper-filtered types to be safe.

Take your coffee black.
More specifically, without milk or cream. Although reducing overall sugar intake is important for health, having your coffee sweetened doesn’t lessen the overall health benefits of the beverage. Adding dairy, however, has been shown to negate the antioxidant effects of coffee (or tea). Studies have shown consuming coffee with milk or cream prevents the polyphenols (powerful anti-aging compounds) from being absorbed in the intestinal tract. So, all of the wonderful antioxidants in coffee that provide its health benefits are potentially cancelled out by the proteins in dairy products. If you want to get the most out of your morning coffee, keep it black.

Who should switch to tea?
As much as coffee does have many health benefits (including improved memory, vascular function and physical performance), it may not be the best choice for everyone. Those with insomnia, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), glaucoma or coronary blood vessel compromise may experience more health concerns from coffee consumption (regardless if decaffeinated). Switching to a green or black tea will provide all of the health benefits of the cup of coffee, without worsening a pre-existing health condition. Give yourself a few weeks to wean off the coffee and substitute in the tea. Reserve that espresso for special occasions.

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About Author

Dr. Laura Belus, ND

Dr. Laura Belus, ND

Dr. Laura Belus, ND (Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine) - Licenses & Memberships: College of Naturopaths of Ontario, Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors, Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors |

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