Many health benefits seem to be emerging from drinking coffee. Coffee has been linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, living longer, and improved cardiovascular health.
We know that we need to be conscious of what we add to our coffee – cream, sugar, etc. However, it appears that the health benefits of coffee may not just come from drinking coffee but also your chosen method for brewing.
A study on filtered coffee
European Journal of Preventative Cardiology published a study that found that filters help remove compounds in coffee that could raise cholesterol levels.
Researchers studied the coffee drinking habits of more than 500,000 people from data gathered over 18 years. They found that people who drank unfiltered coffee or no coffee had a higher risk of premature death than the filtered coffee drinkers. Researchers also found that the highest cardiovascular benefits occurred in people who drank 1 to 4 cups of filtered coffee each day.
The study began when researchers wanted to understand why some coffee drinkers seemed to experience better health benefits than others. The use of filters seems to provide one explanation.
Unfiltered coffee has compounds that raise cholesterol called diterpenes. One cup of unfiltered coffee has 30 times more diterpenes than a cup of filtered coffee. That’s quite a difference!
What this means for you
If you aren’t drinking coffee at all, these results don’t necessarily mean you should start. If you’re going to drink coffee, drink it regularly or not at all. Sporadic coffee drinking can actually raise blood pressure.
If you know that you have high cholesterol, you may want to stay away from unfiltered coffee. And if you don’t have problems with your cholesterol and are already drinking coffee, you may still want to make the switch to filtered brewing methods.
Black coffee – no sugar, no cream – would appear to be the healthiest option.
And the other factor to consider is your overall caffeine intake. The best results from various studies in reducing cardiovascular difficulties are anything from 2 to 6 cups of coffee per day. Anything more than that isn’t quite optimal. So if you are drinking more than 6 cups daily, you may want to cut back slightly.
Finally, anyone who is sensitive to caffeine may want to avoid coffee altogether. If you have blood pressure issues, arrhythmia, atrial fibrillation, or other similar health conditions, coffee may not be for you.
Making your perfect cup of filtered coffee
So now you know that filtered coffee is the healthiest option. Now what?
If you’ve been using a filter, you’re already drinking filtered coffee. Pour-over coffee makers and classic drip coffee makers both use filters.
If you’ve been drinking espresso or French press coffee, or Turkish coffee, these are not filtered, so you may want to get yourself a filter. And at the very least, limit your intake of these types of coffees.
For maximum flavor with your filtered coffee, you may want to use a gooseneck kettle for complete control when pouring the water over your coffee grounds.
Other ways to make your coffee healthier
There are several ways to make your coffee consumption healthier:
Keep sugar and cream levels low. No matter how you brew your coffee, keep sugar and cream levels down if you can’t drink it black. If you like your coffee from a coffee shop, choose a smaller size, and ask for less syrup or sugar. Or use a natural sweetener like stevia.
Avoid coffee after 2 pm. Caffeine is known as a stimulant, and if you are someone who has trouble sleeping, coffee in the afternoon won’t help you. Some people can sleep right after a cup of coffee even at night, and some people can’t, so bear this in mind and do what works for you.
Choose organic and fair trade where possible. Organic coffee beans have fewer pesticides. Fairtrade beans tend to have better processing methods and can be more carefully grown.
Add a pinch of cinnamon. Cinnamon has been proven to help lower blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol. And it tastes delicious! Choose Ceylon cinnamon where possible (higher quality).
Avoid artificial creamers. Rather than using non-dairy creamers, you’re better off using full-fat cream or grass-fed cow’s milk (containing vitamin K, which is good for bone health).
Add a pinch of cacao powder. Chocolate goes well with coffee, and cacao contains many antioxidants and has many health benefits, including cardiovascular benefits. Most mocha-flavored coffees are sweetened with sugar, but you can make your own with a healthier sweetener and pure cacao powder.
Next: Find out how to save money making your coffee at home.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.