If you drink coffee every day, this article is for you.
When we regularly consume something, it's important that to know how it affects us, and whether we're giving our bodies the best fuel.
From brain health to gut health, you might be surprised about all the ways coffee can support your overall well-being. When combined with healthy supplements, coffee can be part of a well-balanced diet.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing! This article walks you through the ins and outs of coffee nutrition, along with the essential health benefits and side effects every coffee lover needs to know.
Different Coffee Types
When drinking coffee, you may find yourself wondering about the different types. With so many wonderful options to choose from, who can blame you? For starters, you can choose between regular and decaf, but the choices don't stop there.
Black coffee is the lowest calorie, and arguably healthiest way of drinking traditional coffee (although there are ways you can make it even healthier!). Black coffee is coffee brewed plain, without any added sugar or cream, and is typically served hot. However, when added over ice, it makes for a refreshing summer treat. You can also drink black coffee as regular or decaffeinated, depending on whether or not you want a burst of energy.
Remember that all coffee beans contain caffeine, but some beans sustain a decaffeination process where the beans are thoroughly washed with a chemical solvent. This solvent extracts the caffeine from the beans. These chemicals include ethyl acetate and methylene chloride, and they dissolve various substances in coffee beans.
If you've got a hectic day ahead of you, then you'd want your coffee served with a kick, something decaf can't offer.
You can also choose from an array of flavors designed to elevate any cup of coffee, roast levels and brewing methods that all impact the final product.
What Affects Coffee's Nutritional Value?
The type of coffee you drink affects the overall nutritional value of coffee. While various types of black coffee offer different amounts of vitamins and minerals, adding milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings to your coffee affects your caloric intake, which can undermine the benefits you're ingesting via coffee alone.
For example, 1/4 cup of whole milk adds 37 calories and 1/4 cup of heavy cream adds 205 calories.
When you add flavorings and sugar, you'll add even more calories and artificial substances. One tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of coffee syrup each have 48 calories.
If you're watching your calories, be mindful of what additives you put in your coffee, and keep in mind that artificial sweeteners may have laxative effects. However, if you're looking to sit back, relax, and enjoy a decadent cup of coffee, there is no shortage of delicious additives.
Antioxidants in Coffee
Coffee is an excellent source of antioxidants. They're found in the body and present as molecules which counteract any oxidative stress your body has sustained. This typically occurs when there's an imbalance between free radicals that damage cells and how well your body can counteract these harmful effects.
If you're a caffeine lover, you'll enjoy learning that your favorite drink provides you with a good source of antioxidants. These antioxidants include hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. Out of everything humans consume, coffee is a top source of antioxidants, making it a win-win for coffee lovers following a healthy lifestyle.
Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity measures each food's capacity to resist oxidation. For reference, it's recommended to intake anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC units daily.
Brew time and the beans used affect coffee's ORAC value. However, you can expect it to range from 15,000 to 17,000. This means a 6-ounce cup of plain black coffee provides you with well over more than three times your daily ORAC requirements.
Benefits of Antioxidants
Antioxidants have plenty of benefits, stemming from their ability to neutralize free radicals within your body. From there, they may decrease the chance of developing certain diseases.
You may find that antioxidants reduce the incidence of certain types of cancer. Since they prevent certain types of free radical damage, cancer prevention may be a potential benefit.
Antioxidants may also help your eyes, working to prevent AMD (age-related macula degeneration). You may find that antioxidants reduce the incidence of AMD by as much as 25%.
Although not conclusively demonstrated, antioxidants may contribute to heart health, with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables contributing to lower levels of stroke and heart disease.
Does Coffee Have Carbs and Fat?
When drinking plain black coffee without any additives, it contains between zero and 5 calories, no carbs and no fat.
Is Coffee a Good Source of Protein?
Unfortunately, coffee can do a lot, but it isn't a good source of protein! Protein is crucial for repairing body cells and creating new ones. However, you can add protein to your coffee or add whole milk which contains protein.
Coffee and Amino Acids
Although coffee might not have any protein on its own, it does have three amino acids: glutamic acid, glycine, and aspartic acid.
Coffee contains three main amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. 100g of coffee contains 20 mg of glutamic acid, 4 mg of glycine, and 5 mg of aspartic acid.
What Are Amino Acids?
Amino acids serve as protein building blocks. Protein is essentially just a long chain of amino acids, and inside your body are thousands of proteins, each with a significant job.
Every different protein has a sequence of amino acids specific to it. These sequences assist protein by taking different shapes within your body, each serving a specific purpose.
Amino Acids in Coffee
Glutamic acid forms proteins within your body. From there, it's converted into glutamate, the chemical used to help your brain's nerve cells send and receive pertinent information. This information is sent to other cells and might play an integral role in memory and learning.
Glycine, a non-essential amino acid, is used by your body to create proteins. These proteins are crucial for tissue and muscle maintenance. Glycine also plays a pivotal role in enzyme creation, along with various hormones and antioxidants.
Aspartic acid works to create other amino acids. It's also useful in creating some nucleotides and plays a main role in your body's energy production. Aspartic acid also sends chemical signals throughout your nervous system.
Cinnamon and Coffee
Are you looking to literally spice up your coffee? Consider adding cinnamon! When you add cinnamon, you'll contribute to a healthy diet, as cinnamon adds a dash of fiber to your coffee.
It's also thought to combat inflammation, lower blood pressure and boost your metabolism.
Healthiest Ways to Drink Coffee
Here are some tips and tricks to turn your love of coffee into a healthy daily ritual.
Don't Drink Coffee After 2pm
Coffee provides an excellent source of caffeine. However, it's a stimulant, which is why you should stop drinking it at 2 p.m., as it interferes with your sleep.
Poor sleep may lead to chronic health issues. This includes kidney and heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and depression. Plus, suffering from poor sleep just makes it harder to get through the day-to-day, and motivate yourself to stay active.
This doesn't mean you should skip your after-dinner indulgence or turn down that cup of coffee with friends. Instead, you might want to opt for decaf. Steering clear of caffeinated coffee after 2 pm is the best way to ensure a healthy night's sleep, but a cup of decaf lets you indulge once more before bed.
Skip the Sugar
Unlike salt, sugar is not a necessary nutrient in your diet. However, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories of sugar per day (about the amount in one 12oz can of soda). Considering how much sugar pervades the rest of our diets, if you're an adult with no existing physical conditions it's unlikely you need to add it to your coffee for any health reasons.
It's more likely that sugar will cause more harm than good. Sugar has is linked to higher blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease, which are in turn linked to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
To avoid making your coffee unnecessarily unhealthy, opt for alternatives, such as agave sugar, coconut sugar, and honey.
Choose High-Quality Coffee
Look for organic brands and those that avoid spraying coffee beans with synthetic pesticides or other chemicals.
If you're unsure of how to detect high-quality coffee, look for the following words: high grown, shade grown, arabica, microlot, and strictly hard. These words indicate a high-quality bean.
Add The Good Stuff™
Another great way to enjoy a delicious, healthy cup of coffee is by adding The Good Stuff™ or The Good Stuff™ Focus. This performance coffee supplement supercharges your morning cup of coffee while promoting focus and minimizing the caffeine jitters.
One scoop provides your coffee with healthy ingredients including Ceylon cinnamon, collagen, l-theanine, MCT oil and Himalayan salt (and in The Good Stuff™ Focus we also have a special cocoa extract that supports focus!). Plus, the delicious cinnamon or mocha flavor removes the need for sugar and other artificial sweeteners from your coffee.
The Good Stuff™ helps fight inflammation while supporting healthy skin and joint health. Even better, your coffee will transform into a delicious indulgence.
Add a Dash of Cocoa
Cocoa is rife with antioxidants which may reduce the incidence of heart disease. Adding a pinch of cocoa to your coffee helps give it a nutritional boost and some added flavor.
You'll have a delicious flavored coffee similar to Caffè mocha, but without the added sugar.
Burn Calories and Increase Energy Levels
If you're looking to lose weight, coffee may help. It's rich in magnesium, potassium, niacin, and antioxidants.
These nutrients may contribute to improved digestive health while supporting your muscle function. This may lead to improved heart health. The caffeine in coffee boosts your metabolism while giving you a burst of energy and working to promote weight loss, making it a must-have.
Improve Overall Physical Performance
Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant. This means it sends your body signals that work to break down fat deposits.
Caffeine also increases the amount of epinephrine in your blood, also known as adrenaline. Epinephrine is the hormone that regulates the "fight or flight" response, helping you with physical exertion. From there, fat cells break down and convert to fuel within your body, increasing physical performance.
Reduce the Likeliness of Diabetes
When you drink caffeinated or decaffeinated coffee, you may reduce your overall risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
However, if you already have diabetes or need to control your sugar levels, you may need to limit how much caffeine you consume. It's always best to consult a physician so you know exactly how much caffeine you can enjoy throughout the day.
Protect Against Neurodegenerative Diseases
Coffee drinkers may experience a reduced incidence of neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer' Disease, Hutchinson's Disease, and spinal muscular dystrophy.
Protect Liver Health
Drinking coffee may help your liver, possibly reducing the risk of cirrhosis.
Coffee drinkers may also have fewer incidences of liver cancer, fibrosis, and fatty liver disease unrelated to alcohol consumption.