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No Java Jive: How Coffee Can Be Good for You

Coffee’s benefits (and those of its well-known constituent, caffeine) are familiar to fans: nothing starts your morning like a fresh cup of hot coffee or refocuses your mind like an refreshing iced coffee on a hot afternoon. More than 100 million Americans drink some form of coffee every day.

Multiple controlled human studies have shown that caffeine improves working memory and alertness in healthy adults, as well as mood, energy levels, reaction times, and general acuity. It’s also one of...

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Coffee’s benefits (and those of its well-known constituent, caffeine) are familiar to fans: nothing starts your morning like a fresh cup of hot coffee or refocuses your mind like an refreshing iced coffee on a hot afternoon. More than 100 million Americans drink some form of coffee every day.

Multiple controlled human studies have shown that caffeine improves working memory and alertness in healthy adults, as well as mood, energy levels, reaction times, and general acuity. It’s also one of the few natural substances proven to aid fat burning and boost metabolism (at least temporarily).

But caffeine isn’t the whole story. Coffee offers notable nutrients, too.

Hotter Might Be Healthier

One recent study from Jefferson University in Philadelphia suggests that hot coffee might be healthier than cold brew because it contains more of the antioxidants thought to be responsible for coffee’s health benefits.

The researchers also found that the pH levels (acidity) of hot- and cold-brewed coffee were similar, countering assumptions that cold brew is less acidic, and therefore less likely to cause heartburn or stomach upset. More study is needed to find out how water temperature and brew time affect the content of specific brews.

Coffee Is Good—In Moderation

Coffee contains important nutrients, including riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), magnesium, manganese, and potassium. It’s also the largest average source of antioxidants in the Western diet—outranking both fruits and vegetables combined.

Remember, though, that you can still get too much of a good thing. Too much caffeine can lead to sleeplessness, trigger stomach upset, heighten anxiety, and raise blood pressure.

And watch what you add to your cup. Black coffee is healthy—and some nutritional additives might make sense, too, based on your goals—but it’s easy to miss the added fats and sugars hidden in fancy coffeehouse drinks. Here it’s cold brew that often wins; some people find it tastier, which means there’s less temptation to load up on sweet, creamy mix-ins.  

If you like coffee, don’t hesitate to brew yourself a healthy cup—at the right time of day for you, of course—and enjoy!

 

Resources

Increasingly, scientists are seeing coffee as more than just a morning kickstart or an afternoon pick-me-up. Find out more from the references we used for this article.

Health.com video, “6 Health Benefits of Coffee,” 1/20/16. Accessed 1/28/19.

Jefferson Today, “Jefferson Researchers Find Hot Brew Coffee Has Higher Levels of Antioxidants than Cold Brew,” 10/31/18. Accessed 1/28/19.

Kris Gunnars, “13 Health Benefits of Coffee, Based on Science,” HealthLine.com, 9/20/18. Accessed 1/28/19.

Niny Z. Rao and Megan Fuller, “Acidity and Antioxidant Activity of Cold Brew Coffee,” Scientific Reports 8, 10/30/18. Accessed 1/28/19.

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