Is coffee healthy?

Coffee beans are a leading source of disease-fighting antioxidants in the American diet.

Is coffee good for you?

Whether it’s liquid energy in the morning or an afternoon pick-me-up, coffee is one of the most popular drinks today. Not only does it keep you energized, but you can be focused and more productive. But depending on coffee as part of your daily routine raises the question: Is all this coffee good for you?

To learn more about the pros and cons of coffee, how much you should drink daily and how to make coffee that’s especially healthy for you, keep reading.


Health benefits of coffee

There are many benefits to charging your day with caffeine. In recent studies, coffee drinkers have been found to be more health-conscious than non-coffee drinkers, typically combining coffee consumption with an intentionally healthy diet and lifestyle. Healthline even suggests having a strong cup of joe just before heading to the gym as caffeine can improve the workout, with its ability to increase adrenaline levels and break down fatty acids from the fat tissues using it as energy.

Caffeine is the most widely used stimulant in the world, says the Radiological Society of North America. The jolt from caffeine is undeniable. We see this in the surplus of energy drinks flooding the cash registers at the grocery store. As published by Coffee and Health, many studies show that caffeine has been found to quickly improve short term memory, decrease fatigue, improve mental functioning and speed up reaction times.


Why coffee is good for you

The coffee bean is the pit, or stone, inside a cherry from the coffee plant. It is filled with antioxidants and zinc to protect our cells against diseases and becomes more potent after roasting. Coffee beans contain magnesium and chromium, which help the body to control blood sugar, phosphorus and potassium for bone health and many other vitamins. WebMD discusses further that together, this can help fight diseases like:

  • Parkinson's
  • Alzheimer's and dementia
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Cancer protection, particularly in the liver and colon

Harvard Health discusses the importance of anti-inflammatory foods and drinks, like coffee, to aid in preventing diseases as mentioned above. Combining coffee in an anti-inflammatory diet can also improve mood helping to improve mental health.

How much coffee should you drink?

Moderate coffee consumption is defined by the Mayo Clinic as three to four cups a day. But most studies see disease-fighting health benefits after two cups of coffee daily. If you find coffee triggers heartburn, nervousness or insomnia, it's time to cut back.

Caffeinated coffee vs. decaf coffee

Coffee research shows most health benefits are due to the caffeine in a cup of coffee. However, decaf coffee drinkers still benefit from the rich antioxidants and minerals found in the coffee bean.

Health risks of coffee

There are some health risks to coffee beyond having the jitters. The high levels of caffeine in coffee can temporarily raise blood pressure and adrenaline, causing fight-or-flight stress responses in mood and actions. Caffeine is not recommended for people who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding. Caffeine is a dependence-forming substance associated with headache, nausea, depression and muscle aches and can be toxic in high doses in children. And lastly, caffeine is a mild diuretic, which means you may become dehydrated. Be careful not to replace your daily water intake with coffee.

How to brew healthy coffee

Quality ingredients and practices will help you to enjoy and benefit from every drop of coffee. To reap the benefits of coffee, stick to these simple tips.

  • Buy organic coffee and fair trade coffee. Organic coffees are richer in antioxidants due to their clean growing practices without the use of synthetic fertilizers or chemicals. Fair-trade coffee signifies farmers are using ethical practices to grow their coffee beans and they receive a fair price for doing so. Good quality coffees will also have a roasting date on the bag. The coffee beans are freshest when purchased within 14 days of the roasting date.
  • Steer clear of artificial additives in flavored coffees. Artificial flavors can mask low-grade coffee beans that are past their prime and the artificial flavor is mixed with solvents like propylene glycol, which is also a chemical in antifreeze, used to attach the flavor to the beans. Know what you are putting in your body with naturally flavored coffee.
  • Grind your coffee at home for freshness. Coffee beans tend to lose their flavor after grinding. For the best taste and freshness, buy whole bean coffee and invest in a coffee grinder.
  • Brewing coffee with filtered water will help to remove potentially harmful chemicals in tap water like nitrates, arsenic and lead. Using a water filter will clear out chemicals in tap water that can create a strange flavor in the coffee.
  • Drink coffee black. Enjoy the flavor in the delicious brew without clouding the coffee with creamers.

Healthiest way to prepare coffee

A freshly ground and brewed cup of coffee has a delicious aroma and won't be bitter. A single-serve coffee maker makes it easy to experiment with different brands of coffee beans. Try a coffee variety pack with several different brands to find your favorites, then go for the fresh beans.

Healthier milk and sugar alternatives

If you aren’t ready to take your coffee black, consider alternatives to heavy, sugar-filled creamers. People may not realize how many calories and grams of sugar they are adding to the coffee with creamers and milk. Measure what you are using now in the coffee and gradually scale back to ward off extra calories and rediscover the taste of the freshly brewed coffee.


There are plenty of alternatives to cow's milk that typically are lower in calories and fats. Milk alternatives can create a multitude of delicious, but slight flavor adjustments to the coffee. Popular substitutes for cream are oat milk and coconut milk. Soy milk has a neutral flavor and hemp milk adds a nutty flavor to your coffee.

Just a teaspoon of sugar adds four grams of sugar to your coffee. According to Harvard Health, consuming too much sugar can carry a slew of health problems with it that negate the health benefits of coffee. Ditch the sugar and try to naturally flavor your coffee.

Try adding 1/4 teaspoon of any of the following spices per cup of coffee. You can add these spices directly to the grounds before you brew or sprinkle the spice on top of the freshly brewed coffee. This will flavor the coffee without using sugar. You can also create new flavor combinations by mixing two of these spices together: vanilla extract, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cocoa nibs, ginger, lavender, star anise, cloves and peppermint oil

Brewing healthy coffee at home

Coffee house drinks pack a lot of sugar, calories and fat into your day that can make you sluggish after the caffeine wears off.

Do you love peppermint mocha? Try brewing your coffee with cocoa nibs that have been ground in the coffee grinder. Add one teaspoon of cocoa nibs per two tablespoons of coffee grounds and brew. To a fresh cup of coffee, add two tablespoons of coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon peppermint oil.

Do you enjoy flavored iced coffee? Try brewing your own iced coffee by adding 2 tablespoons of oat milk, 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 1/4 teaspoon of lavender per cup of brew to create your own specialty coffee.


Kim Luongo is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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