An unprecedented amount of research is being put forth towards discovering the true nutritional value of coffee, but all of this is building towards one simple answer to one simple question: Is coffee healthy?
The Case for Coffee
Surprisingly enough, coffee can be great for you… In moderation. Of course, many things can be harmful when consumed excessively, but how much coffee is too much? According to a massive study of 25,000 South Korean coffee drinkers, three to five cups a day appeared to be the sweet spot. While coffee’s benefits are still being discovered and tested, one strong association is that coffee can reduce the buildup of coronary artery calcium, a promising predictor of impending heart disease.
This moderate level of consumption has also been linked to a lower risk for skin cancers, notably melanoma, a highly dangerous variety of skin cancer, and basal cell carcinoma, the most common skin cancer. Better yet, these cancer-fighting benefits were linked only to caffeinated coffee – so it’s a better time than ever to ditch the decaf.
Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and with so much research being done on coffee, new potential benefits are discovered frequently. Caffeinated coffee has already been linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and may help prevent additional varieties of cancer.
The Case Against Coffee
Of course, the health benefits of coffee are typically enjoyed by those who consume an 8-ounce cup of black or lightly sweetened coffee. If you prefer a heavily-flavored, cream-infused, whipped mixed coffee drink like a latte, you’re not only negating the health benefits of coffee, but you’re also contributing to possible obesity and heart disease.
As we mentioned earlier, only caffeinated coffee seems to carry many of the beverage’s health benefits, but of course, caffeine has its own drawbacks. It can exacerbate issues like insomnia or diabetes, and it’s been linked to growth restriction in children. Pregnant women who drink coffee are delivering small amounts of caffeine to their child, and while it’s still uncertain what affect this might have, many choose to avoid coffee for this reason.
Do you have a traditional coffee-maker, or do you prefer a French press? If you’re not using a paper filter, even the healthiest cup of joe carries cafestol, a compound which might increase bad cholesterol and put your health at risk.
The Final Verdict
This might sound like a lot to take in, but all in all, it’s simple. Three to five 8oz cups of filtered black coffee a day can provide a wide range of health benefits and make you feel great. Avoid artificial sweeteners and nix the cream for a healthy, motivating beverage… Just don’t think it’s going to replace a cheap health insurance plan. And take it from us: black coffee is a bit of an acquired taste, but once you acquire it, you’ll never look back.