Some people love coffee, others hate it. One thing is for sure, though – coffee is one of the most popular drinks around the world. Whether it’s a specialty drink like a Latte or Mocha, a flat white, or just a black filter coffee, it’s almost impossible to live one day without seeing a coffee in sight.
44 percent of adults in the United States admit to drinking two or three 7-ounce coffees on a daily basis. In the same survey, it was found that 65 percent of Americans regularly drank coffee.
So, even if you don’t consume coffee, you know what it is and have probably consumed it at some point in your life. The main reason why people drink coffee is the taste as well as the effects that it has on the body.
However, if you’ve heard about coffee before then you’re more than likely to know about the adverse effects that it can have on the body. Coffee is considered an unhealthy drink by many due to the presence of caffeine, which can cause withdrawal if you don’t consume enough of it.
Many people try to stop drinking coffee or at least cut back, but before they can get anywhere substantial they become subjected to withdrawal symptoms. The most common of these are listed below:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle aches
- Difficulty concentrating or carrying out simple tasks
These tend to last up to nine days, which can be harrowing on the mind and body. For this reason, many people simply continue to drink coffee despite the health warnings that come along with it.
However, all hope is not lost just yet for us coffee drinkers. Today we are going to be looking at the overlooked health benefits of our favorite hot beverage. More so, we’ll also be discussing how much is too much and how to make your perfect healthy coffee.
- Is Coffee Good For Us?
- Black Coffee or Milky Coffee?
- 5 Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee
- How Much Coffee is Too Much?
- Preparing a Great Black Coffee
Is Coffee Good For Us?
Yes! As long as you’re consuming it only in moderation, coffee can offer you a number of health benefits. Erikka Lotfield, who is a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute, studied coffee and the effects. She stated: “The evidence is pretty consistent that coffee is associated with a lower risk of mortality.”
Another interesting fact is found in the British Medical Journal’s study on coffee consumption and health. This review was published in 2017 and found that coffee was more often than not associated with benefits rather than harm. They pulled this conclusion from reading over 200 prior reviews about coffee’s effects on the body.
In another umbrella review, Coffee, Caffeine, and Health Outcomes found that the potential benefit that comes from coffee could have something to do with the polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant compounds that include antioxidant properties, which can benefit the body from the inside out.
As you can see, there are plenty of studies out there that can confirm that drinking coffee is good for you. However, there are also plenty of studies that can testify that coffee is bad for the body when it’s over-consumed.
The word to focus on there is: overconsumed. There is a recommended amount of coffee to drink in the span of one day. Sounds simple enough, right? Don’t overindulge in your caffeinated beverages. However, the recommended coffee intake changes for different people, such as pregnant women.
Black Coffee or Milky Coffee?
The way your coffee is prepared does affect the health benefits of your drink. There was research being carried out in Switzerland by Nestle’s Research Centre to see what the effects were of adding milk to your coffee.
Researchers wanted to determine whether milk would affect how polyphenols aid the body in coffee. Coffee is one of the best antioxidants thanks to polyphenols, so if milk were to affect these then it would be an important revelation.
The findings of the study consisted of giving healthy adults different types of coffee with milk. After a 12 hour wait, researchers then took a blood sample to measure the polyphenol equivalents in the blood.
The results showed that adding milk to the coffee had no effects on the bio-availability of the polyphenols. However, non-dairy creamers did delay the time in which the polyphenols showed up in the blood. All of the polyphenols reached the blood eventually; however, so the presence of milk does not affect the antioxidant properties of your drink.
With that being said, there are some considerations to think about before adding milk to your coffee. We’ve explained these below to ensure that you have all of the information before adding that splash of milk.
Milk can reduce the effects of caffeine
Black coffee energizes you more than milky coffee for a couple of reasons. The first is that adding milk will reduce the amount of pure coffee you are consuming. Less coffee intake means less caffeine intake, which is the substance responsible for the wakening effects.
The second reason is that milk is often considered a calming and soothing drink that people like to have before they go to sleep. So, the psychological impact of drinking a milky beverage can make you feel more tired than you were before drinking the coffee in the first place.
The added calories
The majority of people and coffee chains that you might order your coffee from tend to use full-fat milk in their coffee drinks. This is because the milk fat is ideal for making steamed milk with foam that sits on top of the drink so pleasingly. Some specialty coffee beverages even call for frothed half-and-half, adding calories and fat to the coffee or espresso.
However, full-fat milk will do nothing for your waistline. Sure, you can substitute it for low-fat milk, but this will alter the taste and texture of your beverage. However, if you still want a milky coffee without the calories, this is the best way to go about it.
Black coffee only has five calories per cup with no added fat. However, the added extras that lots of people like to put in their coffees will raise this number substantially. Below are some of the most popular additions to your black coffee:
- Heavy whipping cream (two tablespoons): 101 calories
- Half-and-half (two tablespoons): 37 calories
- Fat-free milk (two tablespoons): 10 calories
- Sugar (one teaspoon): 16 calories
As you can see, the majority of these extras do not have a substantial calorie amount. However, it quickly adds up. If your normal order was a brewed coffee with heavy whipping cream and two sugars (Do Sugar and Cream negate the effects of caffeine in coffee?), the calorie intake rises substantially from five calories to 138. And that is as long as you only have one ounce of milk in your coffee.
If you wanted a milky coffee, the calorie count would be even higher. Again, you might be thinking that less than 150 calories are not bad for a beverage. But how many do you have a day? The more you drink, the more calories you are consuming.
Reducing the acidity
Coffee has a low pH level with an average measurement of 4.85 to 5.10, making it not the best for people who suffer from acidity. It can also increase the acidic level of urine, which can lead to a whole other number of complications.
To avoid the wrath of coffee wreaking havoc on your acidity, you can add milk to help neutralize this effect. Other ways to reduce the acidity in coffee are to drink enough water and add watery foods to your diets, such as lettuce and cucumber.
Preventing esophageal cancer
Milk has plenty of health benefits that you will also be benefitting from if you add it to your coffee. For starters, calcium can strengthen bones and teeth. However, you can get these benefits from drinking a straight glass of milk. Adding it to your coffee creates a unique benefit of preventing esophageal cancer. Let us explain.
Esophageal cancer is found in the throat amongst the very sensitive tissues inside of your throat. These tissues can be burned easily when you drink a cup of coffee that is too hot. We’ve all burned our mouths from eating or drinking something that was too hot, but we bet you didn’t know the dangers of doing so.
Thermal burns inside the esophagus are a common contributor to getting esophageal malignancies. However, adding milk can cool down the coffee and therefore reduce the likelihood of getting these burns in the first place.
5 Health Benefits of Drinking Coffee
Now let’s take a look into the benefits of drinking coffee. Below we have listed five of the most prominent health benefits of coffee when it is consumed in moderation.
Can Aid Weight Loss
Drinking coffee on its own is not enough to make your body lose weight. However, caffeine has been known to suppress your appetite and increase your energy, making you more likely to burn more calories when you exercise.
Many studies have looked into the effects when it comes to weight loss, and with the majority of results being inconclusive.
This is due to the fact that they were either of poor quality or done on animals rather than human subjects.
With that being said, many people do feel that coffee suppresses their appetite and reduces the number of times that they snack during the day.
One study found that the total body fat percentage was 2.8 percent lower in women who drank two or three cups of coffee a day.
These findings were not as substantial in men, with male drinkers of up to three cups a day having a lower total fat percentage at 1.8 percent less than men who didn’t drink coffee. While these findings could be down to other things such as lifestyle habits and diet, it is interesting to see the patterns between coffee drinkers as opposed to coffee haters.
Good for Pre Workout
Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore can increase your energy levels. You’ll feel the effects of caffeine as quickly as five to 30 minutes after consuming your drink, and you can feel these effects for up to 12 hours.
Imagine the workout that you could get done after your energy levels have increased this much!
This is why many believe that drinking coffee can promote weight loss, as it can give you that extra boost needed to make the most of your workouts.
A study conducted in 2009 by the University of Illinois Urbana found that drinking coffee one hour before a workout can reduce muscle fatigue and pain during the session. Moreover, another study from Coventry University found caffeine to help you work out for longer and put more effort into it.
So, what are you waiting for? Next time you’re gearing up for your next gym session, brew a coffee to get you in the zone.
Helps to Focus our Mind
As coffee is a stimulant, it can affect the central nervous system for the better and improve your mental performance. Your mental performance can concern your concentration, alertness, and attention.
Caffeine can promote feeling more alert despite your lack of sleep, such as while you’re driving at night, working through the night, feeling under the weather, and therefore more tired than you normally would be, or during the after-lunch slump.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found a correlation between improved alertness and attention, and 75mg of caffeine. This is how much of the stimulant can be found in one regular cup of coffee.
Another study used a sample of people under 40 years old to see whether the coffee would be effective in improving performance in those suffering from jet lag or shift work sleep disorder.
Their findings were in favor of their hypothesis, noting that coffee does improve performance in these instances. Moreover, multiple studies have noted that caffeine could improve memory performance in tedious and repetitive tasks. However, over-consuming caffeine could actually decrease performance due to the likelihood of overstimulation.
When caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, it also boosts the brain’s production of dopamine, which is a neurochemical that controls your ability to focus and concentrate on something for longer than a few seconds.
Dopamine is also responsible for how you control yourself as well as your emotional responses. Boosting this can give you a temporary feeling of happiness or pleasure, so caffeine can also be beneficial to your overall mood.
Again, we should stress that these benefits only come from drinking a suitable amount of coffee. Drinking too much caffeine can give the opposite effect, so make sure that you stick to the correct caffeine intake for your body.
Reduces Risk of Cancers
Since the debate of whether coffee is healthy for you or not has gained popularity, researchers and scientists have begun looking into the health benefits that you can experience when drinking the correct amount each day.
Brewed coffee beans contain antioxidants, and many people wanted to discover whether these can be effective when preventing cancer.
There have been over 1,000 studies done when looking into this question, each providing varied results so that we cannot gain a definitive answer.
Some studies seemed to show that there was an increased risk of some cancers when drinking coffee, but other larger and higher-quality studies have indicated that this is not the case.
Many of these new studies show that coffee could lower the risk of some cancers such as:
- Prostate cancer
- Endometrial cancer
- Liver cancer
- Cancers of the mouth and throat
With that being said, drinking too much coffee can lead to unpleasant symptoms such as migraines, interrupted sleep, and digestive problems. This can trigger a butterfly effect – for example, if you don’t sleep well you might be tempted to eat and drink junk food rather than healthily. You might also consume more coffee, leading to overconsumption.
A key step in reducing the likelihood of cancer is to eat well, which you might not do if you don’t sleep well. A study in 2018 determined that there was a direct link between poor sleep and the desire to eat junk food. So, drinking too much coffee can actually indirectly increase the risk of cancer.
Many people also like to add milk and sugar to their coffee to alter the taste, which can increase the calorie amount. While this is fine in moderation, many people who drink too much coffee don’t understand how many calories they’re consuming from the milk and sugar.
This can lead to obesity and being overweight, which is another key factor that can increase your risk of getting cancer. So, while there have been studies to indicate that drinking a moderate amount of coffee can reduce the risk of multiple cancers, over-consumption can be your worst enemy.
Some people think that because coffee has antioxidants in it that they should drink more to benefit from consuming more beneficial ingredients. However, as we have already mentioned, you should not be drinking too much coffee. Instead, get your antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.
The Coffee Roasting Process
In 2018, a court in California sparked interest in the coffee roasting process that included a chemical known as acrylamide. While the judge ruled that coffee manufacturers in California needed to include cancer warnings to ensure that consumers knew what they were drinking, more research has come out to dispute this.
California’s environmental health arm has argued that acrylamide has no significant cancer risk found by their latest research and that it might even offer certain health benefits to the drinker. The original ruling is now under review.
So, don’t stop drinking coffee just because of the unknown information about the chemical acrylamide. This chemical is also found in foods such as cookies, french fries, and chips. While none of these foods are particularly healthy, they can be consumed in moderation – just like coffee.
It is up to you whether you believe that the presence of acrylamide poses a threat to your health or not. However, there is evidence to disprove the original theory and it is worth noting that no other states (or countries) have enforced this ruling.
Helps Fight Depression by Boosting Production of Serotonin
In 1996, Harvard School of Public Health researchers collected data from almost 51,000 women. They were all participants in the Nurses’ Health Study and they had no indicators of depression.
The study took ten years to complete, with the researchers looking for how many women would develop depression by the end of the study according to their caffeine intake.
Health and lifestyle factors, such as weight, smoking, and exercise, were controlled to keep the validity as far as possible. A decade later in 2006, 2,607 women were diagnosed with depression or had been prescribed antidepressants.
The study concluded that there was an inverse dose-response between mood and caffeine intake.
The more caffeine a woman drank a day, the less likely it was for her to develop depression over a 10-year period.
Other products that contain caffeine did not have an impact on the development of depression, with researchers believing that this was due to the fact that other sources – such as tea and chocolate – had a much smaller caffeine quantity in comparison to coffee.
While the study does not definitively prove that caffeine can prevent depression, it does raise some interesting questions. This study has sparked more interest in researchers who want to determine how caffeine affects brain chemistry.
What Is Serotonin?
Serotonin is a chemical that your nerve cells produce, mostly being found in the digestive system. Serotonin is made from the amino acid called tryptophan, which is essential to the body. The amino acid enters the body through consumables such as red meat, nuts, and cheese.
A deficiency of tryptophan can cause your serotonin levels to deplete and therefore make you more at risk of mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Serotonin impacts the entire body and can be considered a natural mood stabilizer. The chemical helps with everyday tasks such as sleeping and eating, and can also help a number of things such as:
- Reducing depression
- Healing wounds
- Maintaining bone health
- Regulating anxiety
In the brain, serotonin is believed to regulate happiness, anxiety, and your overall mood. Increased serotonin levels have been shown to reduce the signs of depression as well, so keeping your levels high is important to your health and wellbeing.
How Can Coffee Boost Serotonin Levels?
Coffee can be an ideal source of boosting your serotonin levels, with plenty of studies indicating that the ingredients in coffee are excellent for boosting serotonin levels. As serotonin is the neurotransmitter closest linked to depression, increasing can greatly reduce the effects.
A study by Yokogoshi et al ‘shows that the consumption of substantial amounts of caffeine or caffeine-containing foods can produce significant neurochemical changes in the rat suggestive of enhanced synthesis and metabolism of serotonin.’
While this study was done on rats and therefore is not as valid as it could be when it comes to humans, again it does bring up some interesting points for comparison. Along with the other studies that we have looked at, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, this information can give us an intriguing insight into how coffee can increase serotonin levels and reduce the signs of depression.
How Much Coffee is Too Much?
If you’ve read this far into our article, you’ll have seen a common theme of us reminding you of the importance of drinking coffee in moderation. This is because too much caffeine can have adverse effects on you, your mind, and your body.
Below we have listed a number of adverse effects that you might experience when drinking too much coffee before revealing how much coffee you should be consuming on a daily basis.
Adverse Effects Of Too Much Coffee
The main selling point of coffee is that it keeps you alert and awake, but you might not want that to last throughout the entire day and night.
Studies have shown that drinking too much coffee correlates with the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.
Caffeine can remain in your system for up to 12 hours, so drinking it too late in the day can prevent you from getting an early night’s sleep.
One study showed that 12 healthy adults drinking 400mg of caffeine either six, three, or one hour before bed had significantly differing sleep quality.
The participants who drank coffee later took longer to fall asleep as well as spent more time awake throughout the night.
Caffeine is a stimulant that blocks the effects of adenosine, which is the chemical in the brain that makes you feel tired. It also triggers the release of adrenaline and therefore increases your energy.
The higher the dose of caffeine you consume, the more pronounced these effects will be. Too much can lead to nervousness and anxiety. Extreme overdoses as high as 1,000mg a day can cause jitteriness and severe anxiety.
High Blood Pressure
Several studies have shown drinking too much coffee to be the reason for high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. This is down to the higher pressure slowly deteriorating the arteries which can restrict the blood flow to your heart and brain. This effect can only be temporary in people, but it is best to monitor your blood pressure to make sure that it is not dangerously high and poses a risk to your health.
You might be thinking that coffee can’t cause fatigue – that’s the entire reason you drink it! But, as we know, everything that comes up must eventually come down too. In a review of 41 studies it was found that while caffeinated drinks increased alertness and mood for a few hours, participants were also often more tired throughout the day.
Drinking coffee throughout the day at regular intervals can avoid feeling this, but then you run the risk of it affecting your sleep. To avoid feeling fatigue from drinking coffee, drink smaller amounts at regular intervals instead of a large quantity all at once.
Rapid Heart Rate
The stimulatory response to drinking high doses of caffeine can cause your heart to beat faster, and in some cases can even lead to irregular heartbeats. In one case study, a woman took a high dose of caffeine powder and tablets in an attempt to commit suicide.
The woman developed an incredibly fast heart rate, leading to kidney failure and a number of other serious health issues. This doesn’t happen to everyone, but you do have an increased risk if you drink too much caffeine in a day.
Of course, drinking too much caffeine can lead to addiction. This is where your body develops psychological and physical dependencies on the drug. A study found that out of 213 caffeine drinkers, daily users had a higher increase of headaches, fatigue, and other withdrawn symptoms just 16 hours after not consuming it. The more caffeine you consume, the more likely you are to experience withdrawal from the substance and become dependent on it.
How Much Coffee Should You Drink A Day?
400mg of caffeine seems to be a good amount for people to consume on a daily basis. This is safe for the majority of healthy adults.
There is around 100mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee, with the types of coffee ranging from 70mg to 140mg. A single shot of espresso has a caffeine content of around 40mg.
So, depending on the type of coffee you drink, 1 to 6 cups of coffee is the recommended amount that you should be consuming.
Bear in mind that there are numerous factors depending on how much caffeine you should be consuming a day. For example, pregnant women are advised to only drink 200mg of caffeine a day, which is half the normal amount.
This is due to the fact that more than this can be associated with restricted growth, lower birth weight, preterm birth, or stillbirth in unborn babies.
People with health risks such as high blood pressure and heart arrhythmias are also advised to drink less coffee than the average amount. If you’re in doubt, it’s always best to talk to your health care provider about how much caffeine is too much for your body.
Preparing a Great Black Coffee
There are plenty of ways that you can prepare a great black coffee to get all of the health benefits without adding additional calories or fat from the milk source. How you are going to prepare your coffee will depend on the type of coffee you’re planning on using. Below is a list of the best coffee sources as well as how to prepare them with the utmost enjoyment guaranteed.
Espresso shots are small quantities of strong coffee that you’re meant to drink in one or two mouthfuls. They still have as much caffeine in them as larger coffees and therefore have a bitter taste. However, on-the-go professionals love espressos due to the quickness of them.
Preparing Your Espresso
- Fill your portafilter with ground coffee beans, ensuring that it is evenly distributed before tamping it down.
- Insert the portafilter into your machine and begin brewing with two espresso cups sitting below it to catch the coffee.
- Wait until the coffee has stopped being poured through and drink with a smile.
Espresso is incredibly quick to make and consume. These shots are often used in specialty drinks with lots of milk, such as cappuccinos and lattes. So, you’re getting the same amount of caffeine (Does Cappuccino Have Caffeine? Is it More than in a Cup of Coffee?), just in a fraction of the time.
Instant coffee is freeze-dried coffee that can be prepared with just boiling water. Undoubtedly the quickest way to make your coffee, instant coffee is for those short on time or who simply don’t have a coffee machine.
Preparing Your Instant Coffee
- Start off with a high-quality instant coffee that has been freeze-dried rather than spray-dried. The former tends to have a truer coffee flavor than the latter.
- Heat your water to the boiling point, using fresh and filtered water. Wait until it reaches between 190 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not use a microwave to heat your water.
- Follow the package instructions to add the coffee to your mug. One teaspoon is usually enough for an eight-ounce cup.
- For a smoother flavor, add a small amount of cold water to the mug before hot. Stir the granules with the cold water to make a paste.
- Now add the boiling water to fill the cup.
- Taste and see if it’s up to your preference. If it is too watery you can add another teaspoon of instant coffee. Enjoy!
Brewed coffee is the most common way of preparing coffee and there are numerous ways of preparing it. Below are the most common brewing methods along with their benefits:
- Cafetiere: Quick, simple, and doesn’t require a filter to work.
- Drip Through: Leaves you with a smooth coffee with accentuated flavors of the coffee.
- Moka Pot: Creates a thick coffee that can be served on its own or topped with water.
You’ll need ground coffee beans for all of these methods, so either purchase ground coffee beans or your own grinder to prepare your own beans.
- Boil water in a kettle.
- Add 18g of ground coffee beans to the cafetiere and pour over 300ml of boiled water.
- Place the lid back onto the cafetiere and wait three to five minutes for it to brew.
- Push down the plunger on the cafetiere’s lid until all of the grounds are at the bottom.
- Pour the coffee into your mug and enjoy.
- Boil your water in a kettle.
- Place the filter into your drip-through machine and pour over a small amount of water to remove the ‘papery’ taste from the coffee.
- Depending on your machine, you will need finer or coarser grounds to use. Research your own machine to see how fine your grounds need to be.
- Add 18g to 30g of grounds to the filter (the finer the grounds, the less weight you need).
- Add double the weight of water to your grounds. If you added 30g of grounds, add 60g of water. Wait 30 seconds for the grounds to bloom, allowing maximum flavor.
- Continue adding your water over the grounds in a circular motion until you’ve used all the water you need.
- Wait until all of the coffee drips through the filter to the bottom. Serve immediately and savor the flavor!
- Fill the bottom of the Moka Pot with water up to its valve.
- Add the coffee grounds to the filter basket and level it off before adding it to the bottom of the pot.
- Screw the top back onto the pot.
- Add the Moka Pot to your gas or electric hob and wait for the water to boil – Comparing Moka Pot and Stovetop Percolator Coffee – What are the Differences?.
- Once the water has boiled, lower the heat slightly so that the coffee is simmering.
- As the pot begins to hiss, remove it from the heat and serve. Careful as the pot will be hot!
To summarize, there are plenty of health benefits that come along with drinking coffee. It contains antioxidants that have been shown to help our bodies in a number of ways, similar to that of consuming vegetables. Coffee can aid weight loss, help us focus on tasks better, reduce the risk of some cancers, as well more benefits.
However, these benefits are only seen when people don’t over-consume their coffee and let it get out of hand. Caffeine can create habits and even force the body to go through symptoms of withdrawal after not consuming it for as little as 16 hours.
1 to 6 cups of coffee, or up to 400mg of caffeine, is the recommended amount that you should have in your diet. Bear in mind that caffeine is found in other things, such as tea, soda, and chocolate, not just coffee. Drinking too much coffee can lead to adverse effects such as fatigue, high blood pressure, and anxiety.
There are plenty of ways to prepare your perfect coffee, from brewing ground beans to using instant freeze-dried coffee. You can add milk and sugar, but these can affect the health benefits and cause more adverse effects. Now all that is left is to find your perfect coffee bean and get brewing!