Coffee: Health Benefits and How-To

Written By: Christina Newberry

Reviewed By: Gloria Tsang, RD

Title: Registered Dietitian

Last Updated on:

Mmm… coffee. If you’re like most Americans, you like it. A lot. More than half of us drink at least one cup of coffee every single day.

It seems there’s often conflicting information in the news about whether or not coffee is actually good for you. So, let’s take a look at the nutrition data and see what we find!

Nutrition Data for Coffee

1 cup (8 fl oz) of black coffee contains:

  •     Calories: 2
  •     Fat: 0 g
  •     Carbohydrates: 0 g
  •     Protein: 0 g
  •     Fiber: 1 g
  •     Glycemic Index (GI): Low (below 55)


Health Benefits of Coffee

Coffee’s main health benefit is its antioxidant content. In fact, according to researchers from the University of Scranton, coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the American diet. Decaf coffee appears to provide as much of an antioxidant punch as regular coffee. Coffee’s ORAC score is 15,000 to 17,000 – one of the highest levels of any food.

The caffeine in coffee may help reduce the chance of developing Parkinson’s Disease and protect against gallstones. Regular coffee drinkers will not be surprised to know that caffeine has also been shown to increase alertness, enhance mood, temporarily improve physical stamina, and relieve headaches.

Moderate coffee consumption has also been associated with a reduced rate of type 2 diabetes and a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Of course, moderation is important. Too much caffeine can cause sleep troubles and may cause fertility difficulties for women who are trying to become pregnant.

How to Choose Coffee at the Store

If possible, buy whole beans and grind them at home to get the freshest cup. You’ll maximize the antioxidant content, plus your coffee will taste better, so you won’t have to add as much milk and sugar to make it palatable. Dark roast coffee appears to deliver more antioxidants than light roast coffee.

Bottled iced coffee drinks tend to contain loads of added sugar, so avoid these and stick to hot coffee – or make your own iced coffee at home – instead.

Ways to Include Healthier Coffee in Your Diet

You probably don’t need help including more coffee in your diet, so let’s look at ways to include healthier coffee in your diet instead.

  • Use less sugar: Adding sugar to coffee ups its calorie content quickly. Artificial sweeteners are loaded with chemicals and are not a good alternative. Try adding a little cocoa or cinnamon to your coffee instead.
  • Use real milk or cream: Artificial creamers are full of unpronounceable ingredients, and the flavored versions often contain sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Watch the coffee shop drinks: Be careful what you order at specialty coffee shops. Some of their drinks have as many calories as you should consume in an entire meal. Drip coffee or an Americano is your best bet.

Cooking, Health

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