September 29th is National Coffee Day! In honor of this caffeinated holiday and one of our favorite beverages, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of coffee and find out if coffee is truly good for you. I’ll also share a few tips for healthy ways to enjoy your coffee.
First, the good news — research suggests that coffee may offer a number of possible health benefits including:
- Decreased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Lower risk of liver cancer and cirrhosis
- Reduced risk of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease
- Lower rates of stroke
- Better cognitive functioning
Keep in mind, however, that the amount of coffee consumed in studies varies greatly, from as little as 1 cup to as many as 5 cups a day.
Like any other food or drink, coffee is not a miracle cure-all. Here are some concerns you should be aware of.
- Drinking 5 cups or more a day is associated with a higher risk of heart disease
- For those who are sensitive to caffeine, too much coffee (how much depends on the individual) can make them anxious or irritable
- Too much coffee or coffee too late in the day can lead to trouble sleeping for some
- Boiled and unfiltered coffees (like coffee made in a French press) contains a compound that can increase LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
- Extras like cream, sugar, and flavored syrups can be a sneaky source of sugar, fat, and calories
- Many creamers contain sugar, fillers, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, and even partially hydrogenated oils (which contain trans fats)
What’s a Coffee Drinker to Do?
Yes, coffee can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. Here are my tips for healthy ways to enjoy your coffee.
- Choose a filtered coffee, like from a plain old drip coffee maker and use a paper filter
- Be mindful of the sugar and sugary flavored syrups you add and gradually reduce them
- Instead of creamer, consider a more nutritious option like milk or unsweetened soy milk
- Looking for more flavor? Try sprinkling on cinnamon or cocoa
- If you’re having trouble sleeping, try not to drink coffee past 2pm or so
- Pay attention to your body and reduce your coffee intake if you’re jittery, irritable, or anxious
- Rather than depend on coffee for energy, make sure you’re getting enough sleep first