Coffee lovers, rejoice. There are plenty of good reasons why you should enjoy your favourite brew. The trick is to make your coffee habit work for your health and wellbeing, not against it. Read on to find out about the benefits of coffee and how to get the best out of your daily fix.
Coffee is loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, including flavonoids and chlorogenic acid, which help protect your body from free radical damage. Coffee also contains magnesium, potassium, niacin and choline and is a good source of vitamin B2 or riboflavin.
Recent research suggests that sipping three to four cups of coffee a day cuts your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 25 percent. It is believed chlorogenic acid and trigonelline, which gives coffee its wonderful aroma, help to improve insulin sensitivity.
Women who regularly drink caffeinated coffee are 20 percent less likely to develop depression compared to those who drink little or no coffee, say Harvard researchers. It may be down to the ‘feelgood’ chemicals dopamine and serotonin that caffeine releases into the brain.
Experts recommend a limit of 300 to 400mg of caffeine per day for healthy adults. “That’s roughly three espressos or five cups of instant coffee,” explains accredited practising dietitian Kate Gudorf, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia.”Any more might wipe out the benefits, plus make you irritable, anxious, give you headaches and disturb your sleep, which can have negative consequences for your health.”
Adding extras such as sugar, whipped cream and flavoured syrups to coffee won’t negate its health benefits, says Gudorf, but they won’t be doing your waistline any favours, either. “You’re still going to be consuming antioxidants, but with added sugars and saturated fat,” she says. “For instance, a full-fat latte with a teaspoon of sugar three times a day can contain as much saturated fat as a burger.”
Coffee contains cafestol and kahweol oils that raise levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol. Coffee-making methods that use paper or fine metal filters remove these oils. The Heart Foundation recommends that people with cholesterol concerns drink filtered rather than unfiltered coffee, so go for instant coffee, drip coffee or coffee made with espresso machines or stove-top makers, and try to avoid boiled Greek or Turkish coffee or plunger coffee.
Darker roasts may be gentler on the stomach as they contain a substance that helps to reduce the production of acid, say researchers from Austria and Germany. They also tend to contain less caffeine, which can trigger acid reflux. If your heartburn is mild, McGrice suggests choosing a café latte over, say, an espresso, as the milk can help soothe the symptoms.