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.
Coffee has been known for helping reduce the risk of cancer, and a 2016 study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers, and Prevention found drinking it could help cut it by a whopping 50 percent. But how much is needed to reap the benefits? Researchers say one or two cupts for a 26 percent reduced risk or more than 2.5 for a 50 percent-reduced risk.
Also, remember that what you add to your coffee can make a difference in how healthy the beverage really is. Instead of loading up on cream and sugar, Vizthum suggests adding up to two tablespoons of milk, milk substitute or half- and- half, and using naturally sweet spices and flavorings. Try stirring in a ¼ teaspoon of the following for extra flavor:
Do you drink your coffee first thing in the morning? You may want to think again.”Caffeine causes sugar to release into the bloodstream, creating a spike in insulin and a resulting drop in blood sugar,” says health coach and nutritionist Kristie Santana. “This will cause your body to require even more sugar, which will lead to food cravings.” Additionally, studies have found that drinking coffee first thing in the morning interferes with our bodies’ production of cortisol, which can increase your tolerance to caffeine and make you more reliant on the drink.
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.
The healthiest way to take your coffee is, of course, black. But if you can’t stand the taste of the bitter grounds on their own, we have a few pieces of good news for you. Firstly, some studies show that probably means you’re not a psychopath — congratulations. But secondly, there are other healthy options out there to add flavor to your beverage — without adding heaps of sugar.
Coffee has also been linked to lower risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. A 2009 study from Finland and Sweden showed that, out of 1,400 people followed for about 20 years, those who reported drinking 3-5 cups of coffee daily were 65% less likely to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared with nondrinkers or occasional coffee drinkers.
In fact, coffee shows more antioxidant activity than green tea and cocoa, two antioxidant superstars. Scientists have identified approximately 1,000 antioxidants in unprocessed coffee beans, and hundreds more develop during the roasting process. Numerous studies have cited coffee as a major — and in some cases, the primary — dietary source of antioxidants for its subjects.
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.
A 2014 study for Flavour found that the color of your coffee mug can influence how sweet or bitter you perceive a cup of coffee to be. Although not definitive, the study found when drinking from a white mug, subjects perceived coffee to be more intense than when drinking from a transparent mug. Of course, more research is needed, so take this study with a grain of salt, but it may be worth swapping out your white mug for a transparent one to make your coffee "taste" less bitter (and thus reduce the amount of sugar you add to it).
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.
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Not only does coffee help enhance your athletic performance, but it can also help reduce muscle pain after you do spend some time at the gym: A 2003 study in the Journal of Pain found those with high caffeine consumption had significantly reduced muscle pain after working out, which could be explained by caffeine’s ability to decrease sensitivity to pain, opposed to those who drank a placebo.
Research has shown that although caffeine is a diuretic (meaning it triggers fluid loss), your body can adjust to a consistent intake of caffeine, which negates the dehydrating effect. However, many people who start the day with coffee find that they don’t drink enough plain water by the end of the day. If you’re one of them, try downing at least one cup or eight ounces of H2O (plain or infused) when you wake up. And aim for a target of four 16-ounce servings of water throughout the day to stay well-hydrated.
From health bloggers to celebs (hey, Jennifer Aniston), it seems like everyone is hopping on the collagen bandwagon this year—adding it to smoothies, cooked meals, and... you guessed it... coffee. If you’re not on board yet, don't believe everything you hear about collagen—sprinkling it into a smoothie probably won't make you look 30 years younger.
“Milk, lactose-free or not, will provide essential vitamins and minerals,” Meyer says. “By adding 1/4 cup milk to your morning joe, you'll get 2 grams of protein, 8 percent of the daily value of calcium, and 6 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, riboflavin, and phosphorus... essential for bone health, red blood cell production, and metabolism.” So no matter where you are—or whether or not you’re fully awake—there’s a way to add a little boost to your daily cup.
Men who drink coffee may be at a lower risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, new research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that drinking four or more cups of coffee daily decreased the risk of endometrial cancer in women by 25 percent as compared to women who drank less than one cup a day. Researchers have also found ties between regular coffee drinking and lower rates of liver, colon, breast, and rectal cancers.
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.