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Is Pod Coffee as Healthy as Filtered Coffee?

by
author image Sylvie Tremblay, MSc
Sylvie Tremblay holds a Master of Science in molecular and cellular biology and has years of experience as a cancer researcher and neuroscientist. Based in Ontario, Canada, Tremblay is an experienced journalist and blogger specializing in nutrition, fitness, lifestyle, health and biotechnology, as well as real estate, agriculture and clean tech.
Is Pod Coffee as Healthy as Filtered Coffee?
Pod coffee has the same nutrition as filtered coffee, but its packaging might pose a concern. Photo Credit TongRo Images/TongRo Images/Getty Images

It's hard to beat the convenience of single-serving coffee pods. Each coffee pod has just enough coffee grounds for a single mug of coffee, as well as an individual filter for the brew. Because pod coffee is a form of filtered coffee, it has health benefits similar to the conventionally brewed drip variety. There are some potential health concerns with the pod packaging that aren't present with other types of filtered coffees, however.

Benefits of Coffee

Whether you brew it in a pod or using regular coffee filters, you'll get a low-calorie beverage with several health benefits. A cup of plain coffee, brewed with tap water, has a negligible 2 calories with no significant fat content and only 5 milligrams of sodium. While it doesn't offer much in the way of minerals, coffee contains 11 percent of the daily value for riboflavin, or vitamin B-2. It also contains phenolic compounds, like chlorogenic acid, which might offer antioxidant benefits to protect your cells from damage.

Note that while pod coffee has the same nutritional value as regular filtered coffee, specialty coffee pods, like lattes or mochas, do not. A caffe mocha pod coffee has 60 calories, including 6 grams of sugar.

Pod and Filter Benefits

Pod and filtered coffee both offer health benefits over unfiltered brews, such as those made using a French press. Paper filters remove compounds, called diterpenes, that raise low-density lipoprotein -- the harmful cholesterol -- in people.

But if you're making pod coffee without a paper filter -- for example, brewing with a reusable pod that only has a metal mesh filter -- you'll still have diterpenes in your cup.

Potential Pod Concerns

Coffee pod packaging usually contains plastic, which might pose a health risk, according to a 2014 article published in Mother Jones. While one popular brand of coffee pods doesn't use plastic containing bisphenol-A, or BPA -- a component in some packaging that has estrogenlike activity -- the plastic might still contain possible carcinogens or neurotoxic agents, Mother Jones reports. It's not yet clear how safe the plastic in coffee pods might be for your health.

If you're still hooked on pod coffee, look for pods that contain just the paper filter and grounds capped with the aluminum lid -- they're sometimes labeled "environmentally friendly" because they also cut down on plastic waste.

Everything in Moderation

No matter how you make your coffee, you'll want to keep your intake in check to avoid side effects. Unless you buy decaf, pod and filtered coffees contain caffeine -- an average of around 100 milligrams per cup, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Taking in too much caffeine can raise your blood pressure and heart rate, disrupt your sleep and cause anxiety or nausea. Limit your total caffeine intake to under 300 milligrams daily -- that includes caffeine in cola, chocolate, tea and energy drinks. Switch to decaf if you're still craving more coffee.

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