Regardless of brand, it would seem that America runs on coffee. However, other than giving us a lift in the morning or the doldrums of late afternoon, is coffee beneficial or harmful to your health? With so many of us drinking more than ever, it might be worth a closer examination.
Coffee-related health benefits
Overall, researchers confirm that drinking coffee offers many positive health benefits, to the joy of coffee drinkers everywhere. Studies examining coffee consumption have consistently found that coffee drinking is related to lower rates of Type 2 diabetes, although the exact reason why is still unclear. Coffee and caffeine stimulate blood flow throughout the body which may explain why coffee drinkers also have a lower risk of heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Coffee drinking has also been linked to lower rates of liver cancers and reduced risk of skin cancer for women. Regular consumers report improvements in their mood and are less often diagnosed with depression.
Health disadvantages to coffee drinking
While the health drawbacks to coffee drinking are less significant than the associated benefits, they are worthy of mention. Drinking coffee, and specifically consuming caffeine, has been linked to increases in blood pressure and cholesterol, and heart disease risk among those with a specific common genetic mutation. Caffeine and coffee can also aggravate heartburn. Finally, depending on how you flavor your coffee, you may be adding significant unnecessary calories to your diet.
5 Tips for your best cup of coffee
With such overwhelming health benefits, you’re probably tempted to fire up your coffee maker, now. However, as you seek the health benefits of coffee drinking, following a few simple tips can ensure your home brewed coffee is good from the first to the last sip.
- Start with a clean coffee maker. This may seem obvious, but few people regularly clean their coffee pot, leading to residue and stale flavors. Run white vinegar and water through your machine at least once per month.
- Use fresh beans, or grind your own. Beans that are freshly ground have the greatest flavor, which translates into a tastier cup. Also buying beans on ‘sale’ sometimes means the beans could be older, and the store or seller is trying to get rid of them at a discount, which could affect the freshness and flavor of your coffee. Coffee, to me anyway is like fish, the fresher the better!
- Always use filtered water. Since most of your cup of joe is water, you want to use water without chemicals that can create unpleasant flavors. Be sure to change your fridge filter as well – the minerals in filtered water enhance the aroma and taste.
- Be generous with the coffee. Check your coffee package for the proper ratio of water to grounds to be sure your coffee is robust and flavorful.
- Drink it immediately. Allowing your brew to sit and cool will alter the flavors and diminish the overall experience. Similarly, reheating will turn the coffee flavor bitter.
While doctors aren’t entirely sure they understand why coffee is so beneficial for health or how it decreases the risk of many serious conditions, embrace it. By following a few key steps you’ll be making your best cup of coffee ever, and improving your health at the same time. For better tasting drinks of any kind, be sure to change your fridge filter!