As it stands, around 64% of Americans admit to drinking at least one cup of coffee daily. Those are higher figures than ever before, and, for the most part, we assume that to be a negative thing.
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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.
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.
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.
There’s certainly a negative side to coffee if we don’t approach it correctly.
With that in mind, we’re going to look at a few simple habits you could adopt to ensure you brew yourself a healthier coffee drinking habit moving forward.
# 1 – Tips For Healthy Coffee: Everything In Moderation
As with most things in life, the benefits of coffee only apply in moderation. S
tudies reveal that drinking too much coffee can ultimately negate positive aspects and even lead to detrimental side effects, including anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues.
Too much coffee can also wreak havoc on our teeth, with sugar intake causing decay (more on that later).
General coffee stains meaning a choice between dental veneers or a smile we can’t be proud of. In short, this isn’t such a positive experience.
A nice little hack is to use a straw with your coffee so it goes right past your teeth. You can also swap out a dark roast for a light roast.
As a general rule, it’s recommended that we stick to around 1.1 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight each day. In other words, someone weighing 176 pounds should aim to drink no more than two cups of coffee.
Then, you’ll be in a prime position to enjoy those benefits without possible associated risks. Consider switching to decaf coffee if caffeine is affecting you more than you like.
#2 – Healthy Coffee: Cut Back On The Sugar
Coffee might come complete with a host of health benefits, but an excessive sugar intake isn’t such a good thing.
This is what makes those coffee shop frappuccinos such a health concern, and it’s why you should think twice if you’re used to piling sugar into your cup. Skip the Starbucks coffee drinks.
The simple fact is that the high levels of fructose found in even one or two spoonfuls of sugar can lead to a whole multitude of health concerns, including ever-dreaded diabetes.
Not to mention that this also puts your smile at risk with decay and other such unwanted issues.
Luckily, there are ways to get your health back on track without cutting out that coffee-based sweetness altogether. Natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave are particularly coming to the fore for this right now and with good reason.
These additions create much the same flavor, but with much lower fructose content so you can start enjoying your coffee again without worry. Some people like stevia, but there are debates over its healthy benefits.
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.
# 3 – Have A Cut-off Point
Caffeine is most people’s favorite thing about coffee.
That’s all well and good, but caffeine is also responsible for most of our less-than-ideal coffee reactions, including an inability to sleep, which can be detrimental.
To avoid health issues including high blood pressure, depression, and even heart disease, it’s therefore vital that you incorporate a coffee cut-off point into your day.
When this should be will, of course, depend on your reactions to caffeine. Someone who isn’t overly affected, for instance, may be able to get away with a cup as late as 4-5 pm and still sleep soundly.
For most of us, though, cutting coffee as early as 2-3 pm is best for quality sleep without compromise or health risks.
#4 – Replace Your Coffee Creamer and Sugar With Spices
Instead of using fatty sugary coffee creamer, try spices. Any combination of cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa powder, turmeric, or similar spices helps make black coffee taste delicious.
Pumpkin spices are popular in the fall.
Consider swapping the whole milk with almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk to really cut back on the calories. Skip the whipped cream. Also skip our Bulletproof Coffee Recipes, Tips & Tricks to Spice it Up
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).
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.
# 5 – Buy Higher Quality Coffee
Though you may think that expensive, organic coffee blends are a waste of time and money, the health experts will tell you otherwise.
Organic blends certainly seem better from a health perspective, given that pesticide spraying is a worry for standard coffee beans. There is, of course, conflicting evidence about just how much damage pesticides can cause.
Choose organic and fair trade coffee where possible. Organic coffee beans have fewer pesticides. Fairtrade beans tend to have better processing methods and can be more carefully grown.
# 6 – Brew A Healthier Pot of Coffee
Believe it or not, how you brew your coffee also significantly impacts its potential health benefits. While plenty of good stuff is in a regular cup of coffee, the standard brewing process also adds a few less-than-ideal extras, including cafestol, which may raise cholesterol.
While it does have certain benefits, including some anti-diabetic properties, cafestol can also undo the antioxidant benefits that make coffee a healthy habit in the first place.
What’s more, the extent to which high intake can raise blood pressure is never a positive.
Brewing with paper filters could be all it takes to overcome this issue. Strange as it may seem, paper filters work to lower/filter those high levels of cafestol while letting all the good stuff into your morning brew.
# 7 – 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.
A Healthier Coffee
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.
Cut Out Your Coffee Guilt
As you can see from the health benefits discussed, it’s past time you left coffee guilt behind you and started embracing your morning brew for the positive lifestyle it can bring.
Ultimately, each of these changes are so small as to be insignificant in the large scheme of coffee drinking.
Yet, they could take your daily fix from damaging to dreamy in no time at all and leave your body floating on cloud nine without having to compromise on the caffeine it loves so much.
…and if you want some unhealthy coffee see our post on What is Bulletproof Coffee Recipes, Tips and Tricks to Spice it Up