Can Coffee be Healthy?
Many of us enjoy coffee every day. In fact, coffee is the most popular beverage among Canadian adults . People drink coffee to feel more awake, alert and to improve focus and concentration, while others enjoy a cup just for the taste or ritual of it.
We sometimes see stories in the media on how coffee is beneficial or detrimental to health. It can be confusing and leave us wondering if coffee is healthy and energizing – or harmful and addictive.
There is no definitive answer, as coffee can affect people differently. But how you choose, prepare, and drink your coffee can make a difference in how it impacts your health and wellbeing. Here are three ways to make your coffee consumption healthier.
1. Moderation and Balance
Moderate consumption of coffee has been given the all-clear by most health professionals – it’s drinking too much that can cause problems. This is because of its natural caffeine content that offers positive stimulating effects for some, but can induce insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness in others.
Limit yourself to two cups a day (you can refer to more specific guidelines for caffeine intake here) and be mindful of hydrating throughout the day, as coffee also has diuretic effects.
Many appreciate the boost you get from a cup of coffee – especially in the morning, but when these effects extend into the evening they can disrupt the restorative sleep we need for good health. A good rule of thumb is to cut off coffee consumption after 2 p.m. as not to affect sleep quality.
What about decaf? If you love the taste of coffee but don’t want a lot of caffeine you could consider decaf, where the beans have at least 97% of their caffeine removed.
2. Boost Your Coffee’s Nourishment
Coffee’s nutritional claim to fame comes from its natural richness in antioxidants  known as polyphenols – compounds also found in a variety of plants. The high polyphenol content of coffee has been studied for its health benefits and potential preventive effects in relation to a variety of health issues.
Here are some health benefits:
- Prolonged oxidative stress has been identified as a contributing factor to cardiovascular issues, diabetes, and premature ageing, but regular consumption of the natural antioxidants found in coffee can help reduce its impact on health.
- The polyphenols and other bioactive compounds in coffee have been found to help reduce both motor and cognitive deficits in ageing. 
- Some studies have established a link between coffee consumption and reduced risk of neurodegenerative disease. 
Healthy Coffee Trends Worth Trying
There’s also what you add to your coffee. For some, coffee is a way to indulge sugar cravings. Sweeteners, flavoured syrups and a variety of “drizzles” are all popular options at many coffee shops, where additives, calories and sugar levels can sneak up on people who think they’re just having a coffee break.
But some coffee trends leverage the health benefits of a daily coffee habit as a convenient way to get extra nourishment or benefits from natural health products.
Bulletproof coffee is a blended combination of coffee, grass fed butter and MCT oil (derived from coconut oil) that has become extremely popular, especially among those following paleo and keto diets. The result is a creamy, latte-like coffee that offers a boost of nourishing fats and fat-soluble vitamins, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), butyrate, and vitamins A and K2, and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT). Fans of this blend report feeling energized and satisfied, often substituting bulletproof coffee as an alternative to typical high-carb breakfast foods.
Mix In Collagen for Healthy Skin and Joints
Collagen is another popular trend in enhancing the health benefits of coffee. Collagen is an abundant protein found in connective tissue (skin, bones, ligaments, etc.) that is naturally made in the body, with production slowing with age. Those who take collagen regularly rave about the improvements in the elasticity, strength and appearance of their skin, hair, nails, and joint mobility. Collagen is versatile, heat-tolerant and can easily be mixed into a hot morning cup or blended into an iced coffee. Look for “hydrolyzed collagen”, or “collagen peptides” which means the collagen has been broken down into shorter chains so it can be absorbed by the body.
There are also many companies making easy-to-mix collagen creamers – blends of collagen combined with milk or coconut milk powders available in a variety of flavours. Look for ones low in sugar, made from natural ingredients without artificial additives.
Your local CHFA Member retailer carries a variety of natural health products and quality whole foods so you can pick up everything you need to try out these trendy coffee blends.
3. Sourcing Matters
Like all food, the coffee beans you choose can impact your health, but also affect biodiversity, the environment and the welfare of others.
Choosing organic is important for coffee. Organic certification ensures that coffee beans are grown using natural fertilizers and without harmful pesticides. It also holds growers accountable to other sustainable agricultural and production practices.
Organic farming practices help to reduce ecological impacts, protecting biodiversity as well as those working on coffee plantations from chemical exposure.
Fair Trade Certified™ coffee indicates that the beans are produced under standards by fair trade organizations, based on ethical trading partnerships and sustainable development. It ensures producers and labourers are treated fairly and equitably, and the adherence to sustainable environmental farming practices.
Your local CHFA member retailer offers a variety of ethical, high-quality coffee beans in a variety of delicious roasts. Choosing certified organic, fair-trade coffee not only benefits you, but also protects the environment and wellbeing of those involved in the agricultural and production process.
Even with these considerations – coffee isn’t for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine because of their personal constitution or health condition and the side effects simply aren’t worth it. For others – they just don’t get the appeal.
- ”Coffee by The Numbers” infographic. Coffee Association of Canada. https://www.coffeeassoc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/COFFEE-BY-THE-NUMBERS-infographic.pdf
- Yashin, Alexander, et. al. (2013). Antioxidant and Antiradical Activity of Coffee. Antioxidants (Basel). 2013 Dec; 2(4): 230–245. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4665516/
- Shukitt-Hale, Barbara, et. al. (2013). Coffee, but not caffeine, has positive effects on cognition and psychomotor behavior in aging. Age (Dordr). 2013 Dec; 35(6): 2183–2192. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3824984/