How to Choose Coffee for Health Benefits

Coffee is a daily staple for millions, yet research surrounding its health effects is conflicting. Overall, evidence suggests that coffee is not harmful for most populations, and may actually offer some health benefits! Navigating the ever-evolving realm of nutritional science can be tricky, but by considering your own health status and limiting high calorie add-ons like milk and sugar, you can choose healthier coffee beverages at home and at the coffeehouse. Remember that while a little coffee can be good for your health, too much may actually harm you.

Method 1Choosing Coffee to Brew at Home

  1. Choose organic coffee brands. Organic coffee beans have been grown without the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. While scientists haven’t established whether using pesticides to grow coffee leads to pesticide residues on the beans themselves, pesticides are harmful to the planet and to farm workers.
  2. Opt for decaf coffee if you have certain health conditions. You should stick to decaf coffee if you are pregnant. Studies suggest that caffeine may stunt fetal growth and increase risk of stillbirth or miscarriage.
  3. Choose light roasted coffee beans for an antioxidant boost. Some studies have shown that light roasted coffee beans have higher levels of antioxidants, which protect against molecular damage and may prevent certain diseases. For example, a study published in 2017 found that light roasted coffee beans yielded coffee with higher levels of chlorogenic acid, a major antioxidant, compared to darker roasts.
  4. Drink no more than 3-5 cups per day.The USDA 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines state that drinking 3 to 5 8oz cups of caffeinated coffee per day can be part of a healthy diet. This level of consumption has not been linked to health problems.
  5. Make other lifestyle changes to reap maximum health benefits. While evidence shows that drinking up to 6 cups of coffee a day does not have adverse health effects for most populations, the health benefits of coffee are less clear.

Method 2Preparing Your Coffee at Home

  1. Grind your own beans. Fresh coffee has more beneficial nutrients than stale coffee. To make your coffee the freshest possible, buy a coffee grinder. Buy whole bean coffee instead of ground, and grind your beans at home.
  2. Use filtered water to brew your coffee. More than half of the chemicals found in tap water are unregulated, and some experts believe the standards are too lenient for those that are.
  3. Drink your coffee black. Black coffee has the lowest calories per serving. Adding creamer, sugar, and syrups increases caloric content of your coffee, increasing risk of type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.
  4. Use non-fat milk. If you can’t get used to black coffee, go for a dash of non-fat milk instead of whole milk and creamers. Whole milk and creamers are high in fat, and those calories can add up over time.
  5. Skip the sugar. Sugar sweetened beverages have been associated with significant health consequences, including increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and obesity.
  6. Try flavoring your coffee with spices. Instead of using sugar or creamers high in sugar and fat to flavor your coffee, try using natural spices. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom are all good sources of nutrients.

Method 3Choosing Coffee at a Coffeehouse

  1. Order your coffee black. Black coffee is healthier, and easier on your wallet as a bonus.
  2. Drink fresh coffee. Coffee made to order is the best, as it won’t have been sitting out for long periods of time. When buying coffee, choose places that make your coffee after you order it.
  3. Choose non-fat milk. Black coffee isn’t for everyone. If you need to, order your coffee drinks with non-fat milk instead of creamer or whole milk. You’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary calories.
  4. Avoid specialty drinks. Avoid specialty drinks, like Frappuccinos, which tend to be high in sugar and fat. Instead, go for a plain coffee.
  5. Try spices instead of syrups to add flavor. You should avoid syrups when possible, as these are high in sugar. Spices are available at most coffee shops, and can be a healthy alternative to flavored syrups.

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