Experts believe it’s the way coffee is brewed that makes a difference…
The truth is, not all coffee is created equal, and some brewing methods can be actively bad for your health.
If you’re one of the millions who won’t get out of bed for less than a latte – or three – should you stop? Or, if coffee has never been the brew for you, is it time to acquire a taste? All coffees are not equal and, depending on the type you choose or how you take it, there can be a big difference in terms of caffeine and kilojoule content, and associated health risks or benefits. So don’t play health roulette next time you’re queuing up for a java fix. Here’s the latest evidence to help you make an informed choice.
Coffee cuts disease risk
It’s coffee’s powerful antioxidant compounds, called polyphenols, that seem to lead to a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease, as well as colorectal, liver and skin cancers. Coffee improves insulin sensitivity, liver function and reduces inflammation. And polyphenols are thought to increase blood flow to the brain, possibly having a protective effect against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.
It’s a stimulant
Most coffee fans will tell you it’s the only way to kick-start their day. “The high caffeine content stops sleepiness signals reaching the brain, and increases alertness and focus, making it a meeting-room essential,” confirms dietician Helen Bond.
“It’s also a well-documented ergogenic aid, boosting exercise performance,” says clinical and sports dietician Rick Miller. “With reduced perception of fatigue, you push harder.”
It’s good for (most) guts…
“As coffee contains some fibre, it could be considered a prebiotic drink, and it’s even been shown to increase levels of good gut bacteria,” adds nutritionist Amanda Hamilton, co-author of The G Plan Diet.
“But because caffeine tells your nervous system to ‘keep going’ rather than ‘calm down’, it can affect the nervous system surrounding the gut, causing diarrhoea and cramps in some people,” adds Rick. If that’s you, try a chicory coffee substitute, which has the taste and microbiome benefits without the side effects…but not always your waist.
Coffee is a low-kilojoule option
Unless… “Watch all those tempting coffee-shop add-ons,” cautions Helen. “Whether you’re supersizing, or adding cream, sugar, flavoured syrups, or lots of milk, you’re negating those health benefits. Some can have as many as 2 500kJ and three-quarters of a woman’s daily saturated-fat allowance.”
The bottom line?
Cut back, size down and keep it simple – you’ll manage to cut your coffee-shop bills, too.