Don’t Ditch Your Coffee Just Yet. The Surprising Health Benefits Of Coffee.
I’m a tea drinker. Sorry. I just cannot palate the taste of coffee. I’ve tried... I’ve tried multiple times and I just find it far too bitter. Even living in Melbourne, the coffee capital of the world, it’s still not going to happen…
My coffee drinking friends have tried numerous methods to get me to ‘enjoy’ coffee… from adding copious amounts of sugar (personally I think that defeats the purpose) to the addition of almond milk, but I think they have finally given up (at least I hope so!).
But that doesn’t stop me from writing about coffee, because like you, I have seen the arguments for and against on whether drinking coffee is either an angel or a devil for your health.
So which is it? And do the health benefits vary depending on how the coffee has been prepared?
All in good time.
Let’s start at the beginning, and explore where coffee actually comes from.
It matters where your coffee comes from.
I’d be surprised if you didn’t know that coffee comes from a bean. But did you know that coffee beans are actually the seeds of the berries from the Coffea plant which is native to subtropical Africa and some parts of Southern Asia?
Fast forward to today and coffee plants are now grown in over 70 countries around the world!
The two most commonly known plants are the Arabica and the more robust plant (and some say less sophisticated..) Robusta variety. The beans from these two plants will differ in their flavour, their aroma and of course their price.
The majority of supermarket coffee and all of the instant coffee is likely to be made from Robusta beans, which are easier to grow and therefore much cheaper to produce.
Maximising the health benefits of your coffee
Once the coffee beans are ripened, they are picked and dried. The beans are then roasted to varying degrees depending on the desired flavour. Here in Melbourne there is now a growing trend for cafes to roast their own beans!
Similar to conventionally grown tea leaves though, the beans are not rinsed thoroughly to remove traces of pesticides and other chemicals, so here lays the value in sourcing organic coffee. Granted it can be harder to source, but I would strongly encourage you to do so, especially if you drink a lot of the ‘liquid gold’.
Interestingly, it’s also worth noting that the extent to which the coffee beans have been roasted will also alter their ‘health credentials’. Turns out coffee beans roasted for longer have greater health benefits.
In addition, darker roasts may be easier on your stomach as they lower the amount of stomach acid produced when compared with lighter roasted coffee.
Are there actually any real health benefits of coffee?
It’s a hard one and you can argue it either way.
Certainly there are opinions and studies from both side of the fence on whether it’s good for you or bad for you, but it also comes down to the quality of your coffee and how you prepare it.
For instance avoiding sugar and the use of bleached coffee filters are good starting points for increasing the health benefits of your daily coffee.
However there are of course the negative side effects which get reported include anxiety, heart palpitations, and insomnia which are usually caused by all that caffeine.
Which brings me onto my next point.
How to easily reduce the caffeine from coffee
If you’re worried about the caffeine content of your coffee, you can opt for a darker roast as they typically contain lesser amounts.
You’ll also want to avoid drip coffee (this has a higher caffeine content due to the longer brewing time), and finer coffees are also seen to be higher in the stimulant.
Caffeine in moderation is not going to be too damaging to your health, but if you’re running on your adrenals from a highly stressful job then it’s a good idea to go easy.
Coffee and your adrenal glands aren’t the best of friends.
A DOSE OF ANTIOXIDANTS ANYONE?
However, there are always two sides to a story and ‘moderate’ consumption has been shown to lower the risk for type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. This may be due to the high levels of antioxidants founds in coffee (darker roasts e.g. roasted at higher temperatures are shown to have higher amounts).
Another health benefit of coffee being discussed is its effects on the liver, and lowering the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
The Bottom Line
Everything in moderation is the key, and your daily coffee in my opinion is going to give you a good hit of antioxidants and other benefits. But…. choose organic, choose a darker roast coffee, ditch all that sugar, and avoid bleached filters and those BPA plastic coffee mugs.
And maybe, just maybe it’s time for me to have another try at drinking coffee...