Coffee can prevent disease and extend life, but only if you drink the right kind.
It’s not often you find a vice that has redemptive qualities. I mean you’d have trouble finding people to defend unrestricted drinking, smoking, or porning it up, but coffee is unique in that regard. While it gives you a nice caffeine buzz, it’s actually amazingly good for you, and the more you have (to a point), the better the health benefits. Try saying that about cigars, cigarettes, or shots of Jagermeister.
Large study after large study shows that coffee drinkers just don’t give up the ghost that easy. They have fewer diagnoses of diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease, stroke, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. And in a recent 16-year study of coffee drinkers, those that drank more than three cups a day were less likely to die (12% for men and 7% for women) from any cause.
Coffee presumably does this because it contains over 1000 biologically active compounds, but perhaps the most interesting among those active compounds is a polyphenol named chlorogenic acid, or CGA.
While scads of plant chemicals are anti-inflammatory or anti-oxidative, CGA seems to be particularly adept in those areas. The trouble is, CGA content varies enormously among coffee varieties, roasts, and grinds.
Drink 3 to 5 cups of high-CGA coffee every day. Here’s how to make sure you’re getting the right stuff, as determined by Bob Arnot, MD:
- The coffee beans with the highest CGA are grown at high altitudes and near the equator. Opt for Kenyan, Ethiopian, or Columbian.
- The commercial coffees with the highest CGA content that you can buy from the grocery store are Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend and McCafe Premium Roast Decaf, medium roast.
- Artisanal coffees, though, generally have 50% more CGA than those you can find at the grocery store.
- Caffeinated versions generally have about 25% more CGA than decaffeinated versions.
- Flavored blends don’t usually have a high CGA content because they typically use low-quality, low CGA beans (the artificial flavor negates the need for good-tasting, high-CGA beans).
- Light and medium roast coffees preserve CGA, while dark roasts destroy them (along with generating undesirable byproducts like acrylamide, the carcinogen found in French fries and potato chips).
- Use fresh ground coffee beans when possible. Pre-ground versions usually lack flavor and are short on CGA.
- Very fine grinds are the most healthful, but also the most bitter. Medium grinds have an acceptable amount of CGA.