Cold brew coffee is smooth, delicious, refreshing, and offers an energizing dose of caffeine without the apparent acidity and bitterness that you get from brewing hot coffee. Although it’s called “cold” brew, it can actually be served hot or cold, so it’s also perfect at any time of the year.
You probably know how delicious cold brew is, but did you also know that it offers some pretty impressive health benefits too? That’s right! Cold brew coffee can be good for your health in a variety of ways, so get out a glass of cold brew and enjoy guiltlessly while we detail its health benefits for you!
The Top 9 Cold Brew Coffee Health Benefits
1. It Improves Mental Acuity
The caffeine in coffee and the elevated amount in cold brew makes you feel more focused and energized. This feeling isn’t just a feeling, though; the stimulant properties of caffeine are actually backed by science, so the research concludes you can drink up to improve your mental acuity!
Caffeine increases brain activity naturally, much in the same way that all stimulants do. A research article on the energizing effects of caffeine explains that adenosine, a neurotransmitter naturally found in our bodies, builds up throughout the day, making us sleepy. Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors, which increases the absorption of dopamine and decreases the effectiveness of adenosine.
Cold brew’s naturally high caffeine content can lead to a better sense of presence, an increased ability to focus, and general feelings of wakefulness.
2. It Keeps You Mentally Healthy
So far, we’ve discussed how caffeine can make you feel motivated and positive and how it can increase focus in the short term. While mental acuity immediately after drinking cold brew is great, the long term benefits are even better.
Scientific papers about the long-lasting effects of caffeine on the human mind astoundingly conclude that ingesting caffeine regularly can decrease your chances of being affected by mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, because Alzheimer’s disease is often a precursor to dementia, caffeine can also reduce your risk of this third mental disease.
Cold brew has been proven to keep you happy, attentive, and mentally healthy as you age…do you need any more reasons to drink this delicious coffee beverage?
3. It Reduces the Risk of Diabetes
In case you do need more reasons to indulge in some highly caffeinated cold brew, we’ve got a pretty big one for you: it can reduce your risk of being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes.
This research paper, published in a medical journal specifically about diabetes, concluded in a study of nearly 1,000 people that those who drink three or more cups of regular-strength coffee a day —sometimes the equivalent of just one and a half cups of cold brew — are more than 40% less likely to contract type-2 diabetes!
In case that’s not good enough for all you coffee-drinking health nuts, type-2 diabetes is also closely linked to myriad other health issues. According to this article from the Mayo Clinic, type-2 diabetes can trigger heart disease, kidney damage, nerve damage, and a slew of other health complications you’ll definitely want to avoid. The good news is that cold brew can help you avoid them!
4. It Makes You Feel Good
Aside from cold brew being downright delicious, it has actually been scientifically proven to have mood-boosting properties. Feeling down? Grab a glass of cold brew!
The magic ingredient that can give you more positive feelings and put you in a better mood is, once again, caffeine. According to this article published in Psychology Today, caffeine causes an increase in dopamine absorption by binding to adenosine receptors. Whether you know what this means or not, it stimulates the part of your brain associated with reward and motivation, which leads to overall positive feelings.
The author of this same article also goes on to say that feelings of sadness and depression can be caused by a minor inflammation in the brain. She notes that caffeine can reduce the occurrence of this inflammation, which can actually help cure depression. Those who consume caffeine are reportedly 8% less likely to develop depression!
Again, because cold brew can have a higher concentration of caffeine per cup than regular coffee and even espresso, its mood-boosting properties are more effective as well.
5. It Provides Antioxidants
Antioxidants: you’ve probably heard of them, but did you know that they can help reduce the risk of a slew of health issues, including cancer? And did you know that cold brew supplies abundant antioxidants?
This article from the Mayo Clinic explains that antioxidants eliminate free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals build up in our cells as a result of routine metabolism. They sound innocent enough, but the dangers associated with these oxidative compounds — as explained in this article from Live Science — include cell damage, increased exposure to emphysema, cancer, arthritis, and other major health issues.
The article from the Mayo Clinic suggests that coffee supplies a large percentage of the antioxidants that many Americans get on a daily basis given their diets, which commonly lack nutrients. If you eat a standard American diet, you may decrease your risk of being affected by quite a few health problems if you add a glass or two of cold brew to your morning routine.
6. It Aids in Weight Loss
We associate most delicious things that we enjoy with being bad for weight loss. Thankfully, cold brew is the full package: delicious and non-fattening…it can even help you lose those few extra pounds.
How? It’s really a two-step process. First, according to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine is a natural appetite suppressant and will delay normal feelings of hunger for a short period of time. While this doesn’t directly help you lose weight, it will likely cause you to eat less throughout the day, as hunger is often what triggers us to eat larger meals and turn to snacking. Depending on how you make it, cold brew has a higher concentration of caffeine than regular coffee, which can lead to reduced levels of hunger and, consequently, fewer calories ingested.
Second, caffeine triggers a natural increase in epinephrine and norepinephrine, which boosts your metabolism according to this article on Healthline.com. When the concentration of these two hormones increases in your blood, they trigger your body to begin breaking down fat stored in cells to use for energy, and a faster metabolism causes this fat to be broken down more quickly than it normally would.
Combine the decreased appetite with a boosted metabolism and you’ve got a recipe for weight loss, all from a glass of delicious cold brew!
7. It Boosts Your Energy
We all know caffeine is a stimulant, and while the mental effects like increased focus and wakefulness may be readily apparent to most coffee drinkers, the physical benefits are typically less obvious.
A research article published on PubMed explains that caffeine triggers an increase in two hormones in your body critical in feelings of energy and strength: adrenaline and noradrenaline. When you consume caffeine, the production of these hormones naturally increases and can aid in physical performance. These are the same hormones responsible for your “fight or flight” response to danger, so they can actually make you faster and stronger and give you overall better performance.
8. It Eases Stomach Issues Related to Coffee
When you brew coffee using boiling or nearly boiling water, the heat extracts a lot of acidity from the coffee grounds. This acid can be detrimental to coffee drinkers who suffer from stomach issues like heartburn, indigestion, and ulcers. For those with sensitive stomachs, one of the benefits of cold brew coffee may be that it’s easier on their digestive systems!
Cold brew is brewed cold or at room temperature, and while it is still acidic, this article from Berkeley University notes that cold brew does tend to be less acidic than coffee brewed hot. The difference is fairly small, so coffee drinkers with stomach issues should proceed with caution, but if you don’t have a serious stomach issue, cold brew may be better for you and lead to less acid reflux or digestive discomfort.
9. It Helps You Live Longer
At this point after hearing all of the health benefits we’ve mentioned so far, this may not seem like too much of a surprise: decrease your risk of diabetes, heart disease, cell damage, and mental disease, and you’re bound to live longer!
In an article published on Healthline.com, they detail that, perhaps because of these compounded health benefits and their effects on your overall health, those who drink coffee regularly can extend their lives by up to 15%! It’s debatable whether an increased amount of caffeine — like you would find in cold brew — will increase that even more, but we’ll happily drink our cold brew every day and live “only” 15% longer!
Are There Disadvantages to Drinking Cold Brew Coffee?
As you now know, there are tons of benefits to drinking cold brew: it’s delicious, it can decrease your risk of disease, and it can make you mentally and physically more productive. However, no food or beverage is perfect, and even cold brew can cause some potential issues.
Coffee consumption in general has been linked to increased cholesterol, specifically LDL cholesterol. Coffee naturally contains two compounds — cafestol and kahweol — that can increase levels of cholesterol, according to this article published on Healthline.com. Depending on how your coffee is made, these compounds can be eliminated almost entirely, so if you filter your cold brew through a fine paper filter before consuming, you’ll be drinking less of these cholesterol-raising compounds. Those with naturally high cholesterol levels, however, should consider the associated risks with drinking cold brew.
Additionally, cold brew coffee is nearly void of calories and contains no sugar or fat. If you drink cold brew black, it’s a very low calorie and healthy drink, but many people add milk or cream to their coffee, as well as sugar. Sugar and fat consumption has been linked to a large number of health complications including weight gain and heart disease, so be careful to limit your coffee additives to minimize possible health risks.
Lastly, this article from the Mayo Clinic reports that caffeine consumption can cause elevated blood pressure. They explain that caffeine blocks a hormone that keeps your arteries fully opened and the smaller space for your blood to move through causes a short-lived spike in blood pressure. It’s likely not an issue for most people, but those with already high blood pressure may want to limit their cold brew consumption.
Cold brew is one of the few things in this world that is delicious and can still be beneficial to your health. The caffeine in cold brew can limit your exposure to physical diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, and it can have mental benefits as well, such as increasing focus and reducing your likelihood of being affected by Alzheimer’s, dementia, and even Parkinson’s disease.
Along with these benefits of cold brew coffee comes the potential for some negative effects on your health as well. Caffeine consumption can lead to increased blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, and milk, cream, or sugar added to your cold brew can lead to weight gain and additional complications. However, the benefits of drinking cold brew usually outweigh the negatives, and it can have very positive effects on your physical and mental health — good news for all of you cold brew lovers! Time to brew another cup?
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Featured image credit: cshuttleworth, Pixabay
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