Haendeler, who drinks six cups of coffee a day, says it can be part of a healthy lifestyle—but is no miracle cure. And she is quick to point out there are no shortcuts to good health. “If you hear about this study and decide to drink coffee but you do nothing else—no exercise, no proper diet—then, of course, this will not work,” she says. “You cannot simply decide, ‘Okay, I’m sitting here and drinking four, five or six cups of coffee and everything is fine.'”
If you consider the “health” of your coffee as more than just what you’re putting in your body, but also how your coffee beans are grown, picked, and get to you, Swinney suggests you’re taking your coffee habit to a more beneficial level—not only for yourself, but for the world. “Drink clean and with a conscience. Choose fair trade or coffee with other certifications that help third-world farmers improve their living conditions. Give some thought to the packaging involved in single-serve coffee—it requires much more packaging and contains a larger carbon footprint for getting to the store.”
You might think that since we boil water to brew coffee, you don’t have to worry whether it’s filtered. But Swinney says filtered water is a smart choice, if not for taste, but for health. “Filtered water ensures there are not any unwanted heavy metals like lead or copper, that might be found in old pipes. Tap water also contain many chlorine disinfection byproducts which can be harmful long term,” she says. “You should also avoid using well water unless it’s been tested for contaminants.”
"Caffeine for treatment of Parkinson disease" Ronald B. Postuma, MD, MSc, Anthony E. Lang, MD, Renato P. Munhoz, MD, Katia Charland, PhD, Amelie Pelletier, PhD, Mariana Moscovich, MD, Luciane Filla, MD, Debora Zanatta, RPh, Silvia Rios Romenets, MD, Robert Altman, MD, Rosa Chuang, MD and Binit Shah, MD. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e318263570d August 1, 2012. Abstract. Accessed 15 December 2013.
In addition to providing a temporary boost in brain activity and memory, regular coffee consumption may help prevent cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In one promising Finnish study, researchers found that drinking three to five cups of coffee daily at midlife was associated with a 65 percent decreased risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia in later life. Interestingly, the study authors also measured the effect of tea drinking on cognitive decline, but found no association.
“Absolutely not,” says Donald Hensrud, medical director of Mayo Clinic's Healthy Living Program. “You have to enjoy life, and if you enjoy tea, keep on enjoying it. It’s all good. There are health benefits to coffee, to black tea and to green tea.” But there can also be problems associated with higher doses of caffeine, he notes. The amount in more than two cups of coffee a day, for example, can interfere with conception and increase the risk of miscarriage. And, he says, because individuals metabolize caffeine at different rates, slow metabolizers may be more susceptible to side effects such as heartburn, insomnia, heart palpitations and irritability.
Other studies have tried to pinpoint exactly what in caffeine is helping to halt the onset of these diseases. A 2014 study (14) found that caffeine blocks various tau receptors (a protein that contributes to brain cell degeneration). Another study found that caffeinated coffee increased GCSF (15) - a substance greatly decreased in Alzheimer’s patients - levels in the bloodstream.

When you’ve ordered a latte or a cappuccino at Starbucks, you’ve probably watched as the barista wipes down the steamer before whipping up a new cup. This is meant to fight bacteria, but you may be getting something extra in your drink that you probably don’t want. “What you don’t realize is that sanitizing solution ends up in your frothed milk! It’s not a ton, but it is there—a small amount on that wand for every frothed carafe! So avoiding lattes is a good choice if that concerns you,” Immer says. Or just prepare yours at home to make sure you’re not getting more than you bargained for. This is the healthiest coffee you can drink.
If you consider the “health” of your coffee as more than just what you’re putting in your body, but also how your coffee beans are grown, picked, and get to you, Swinney suggests you’re taking your coffee habit to a more beneficial level—not only for yourself, but for the world. “Drink clean and with a conscience. Choose fair trade or coffee with other certifications that help third-world farmers improve their living conditions. Give some thought to the packaging involved in single-serve coffee—it requires much more packaging and contains a larger carbon footprint for getting to the store.”
Though these additions are all fun ways to sneak a little extra something into your morning, let’s face it—our pantries aren’t always stocked with collagen peptides, and we’re guessing your local barista won’t have ashwagandha powder on hand. But one thing Karman Meyer, R.D., recommends is including something most of us already plan on putting in our morning joe.
Black coffee, including espresso, has less than 10 calories per 8-ounce cup. If you want to cut calories and keep your coffee as healthy as possible, consider ordering a regular brew without any added ingredients. Black coffee can be bitter, but over time your taste buds will adapt to the bold flavor. If you're new to black coffee, here's a helpful beginner's guide to get you through the initial introduction from Manual Coffee Brewing.
It’s enough to make a tea drinker buy an espresso machine. In a new study scientists in Germany report they were able to modify a common age-related defect in the hearts of mice with doses of caffeine equivalent to four to five cups of coffee a day for a human. The paper—the latest addition to a growing body of research that supports the health benefits of drinking coffee—describes how the molecular action of caffeine appears to enhance the function of heart cells and protect them from damage.
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