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Coffee Health Benefits: To Drink or Not to Drink?

Coffee health benefits seem to be a never-ending debate- Is coffee healthy or unhealthy? Is it a guilty pleasure or full of benefits? Let’s go through some of the science-based research on quality coffee. Don’t always believe what you see on social media or on the tricky food labels.

If you love coffee as much as I do, you’ll be glad to hear that there is science to support coffee health benefits. However, when it comes down to it, quality of the coffee really does matter just like with any food or ingredient!

Choosing a high-quality coffee

A heaping spoonful of low-quality instant coffee, or the coffee you might buy at most gas stations, will likely use the cheapest, lowest quality coffee beans (usually selected based on price). These beans may contain a higher ratio of bean defects (such as insect damage, over-fermented, and oxidized) and higher levels of mold. Plus, the coffee could be stale, um ew! Low quality coffee may still provide some benefits but there are possibilities of toxins and chemicals that can create adverse health effects. It is best to find a coffee that’s tested to be free of contaminants, like Purity Coffee (my favorite brand, use discount code: hhughesrd10)

Three ways coffee can boost your health:


There is definitely evidence-based research regarding the health benefits of coffee. Type 2 Diabetes, coronary heart disease, alzheimer’sfatty liver diseaseall of these diseases and more have a far lower chance of occurring in regular coffee drinkers according to recent studies which may be due to coffee’s antioxidant properties.

Type 2 Diabetes, Liver Disease, Heart Health, Cancer Prevention

This 2014 study showed that participants who increased their coffee consumption by more than 1 cup per day over a 4 year period had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the subsequent 4 years compared with those who made no changes in their coffee consumption. Participants who decreased their coffee intake by more than 1 cup per day had a 17% higher risk for type 2 diabetes. Interesting!

This meta-analysis suggests a 40% reduced risk of liver cancer in coffee drinkers. Research also suggests that coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of other liver conditions as well.

Coffee is valued for its high antioxidant value and phytochemicals, so it is no surprise that coffee has been linked to lower risk for certain types of cancers. It also may promote longevity. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, “coffee drinkers may live longer than non-coffee drinkers, having lower risk of dying from many cancers – as well as other chronic diseases.”  You can read more about the research on the AICR website here.

Nutrition Benefits to Drinking Coffee

Coffee is one of the top antioxidant sources in the American diet (likely because we don’t eat enough fruits and veggies). Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are compounds that can cause harm if their levels become too high in your body. They’re linked to multiple illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

Your body has its own antioxidant defenses to keep free radicals in check.

However, antioxidants are also found in food, especially in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based, whole foods. Several vitamins, such as vitamins E and C, are effective antioxidants.

Below is a graph with common foods and their antioxidant content.

Athletic Performance

Athletes who took in caffeine pre-exercise burned 15% more calories for three hours post-exercise than those who didn’t. I personally use coffee as my pre-workout because I not only enjoy it but there’s no added junk or weird chemicals!

A little caffeine post-workout may have benefits too. Compared to consuming carbohydrates alone, a caffeine/carb combo was shown to increase muscle glycogen by 66% after intense exercise, allowing athletes to exercise harder and longer next time. Post workout coffee date, anyone?

Drink it hot or pour yourself a nice glass of cold brew…

Because coffee acids are better extracted at high temperatures, cold brew can be up to 60% less acidic than hot brewed coffee. Many people love the smoother, sweeter flavor of cold brew. Since fewer acids are extracted than from a typical heated brewing process, it doesn’t have the same bitter bite to it that can be off-putting for some.

If black doesn’t do it for you, here are a few healthy coffee options…

No Added Sugar Coffee Add-Ins:


Homemade Nut Milk

Unsweetened Vanilla Nut Milks



Coconut Milk or Cream

Spices to add to coffee:



Vanilla Extract

Cacao Powder



Protein Shake

If you use sugar, use in moderation:


Maple Syrup

Homemade Vanilla Syrup

Sugar Alternatives:




Ways to Reduce Added Sugar in Coffee:

Try an Americano or Black Coffee if you haven’t in a while!

Café Misto

Ask for ½ the amount of syrup

Get a smaller size if you order a sugary option

Start cooking with coffee…

Coffee health benefits aren’t just for drinking, try cooking with it! Use the grounds in anything from baked goods, smoothies, energy bites, as a seasoning for steak or fish.

Here are a few delicious coffee recipes for you to try:

Cocoa Rubbed Steak with Avocado Strawberry Salsa
Espresso Protein Balls

I could go on all day about coffee. There are still a lot of things we don’t know and nutrition is so individualized that the exact recommendations of how much to consume is impossible. My conclusion is if you enjoy it, drink in moderation without junky additives, you may even get some health benefits from your morning brew 🙂

Full disclosure: I love coffee. I start my morning with 1-2 cups or espresso shots. It took me awhile to find brands and blends that I liked without all the added junk. I am loving Purity Coffee for their promised quality and smooth rich flavor. If you are interested in trying it my discount code is hhughesrd10!

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