Drink Coffee the Healthy Way

Coffee has a bad reputation and, for the most part, it's unwarranted. Although you can certainly sip a few too many cups, leading to the jitters, insomnia or dehydration, coffee has plenty of perks when consumed in moderation, including reducing the risk of certain types of cancer, type-2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease. But certain tweaks – such as reducing the amount of sugar and cream you add to your brew – can make your coffee healthier.

A cup of drip coffee in an unbleached paper filter. (Image: dhYang/iStock/Getty Images)

Filter It

Using a French press might be the gourmet way to prepare coffee, but it could also be contributing to your high cholesterol levels, says University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Marie-Louise Ricketts. Unfiltered coffee contains cafestol, which Ricketts refers to as the "most potent cholesterol-elevating substance we know of in the human diet." Using a paper filter while brewing your coffee removes the majority of the compound.

Hold the Cream and Sugar

When consumed black, coffee is naturally a low-calorie beverage. When you start adding heavy cream or excess sugar, the calorie count can skyrocket. Each tablespoon of cream adds 52 calories, while each packet of sugar adds 11 calories. Learn to drink your coffee black or add fat-free milk instead of cream.

Know When to Say When

You might consider coffee's biggest perk to be its caffeine content, but it can wreak havoc on your ability to sleep if you drink it too late in the day. Your last cup of the day should be at least four to seven hours before you go to bed. If it's the taste you crave later in the day, switch to decaf. This can also have benefits for your body if you're at risk of developing heart disease, says Ana Baylin, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, because caffeine can loosen plaque in your arteries and potentially lead to a heart attack.

In the Coffee Shop

The drinks at coffee shops are more like desserts than anything else, and 31 percent of people who order at these shops opt for the higher-calorie gourmet drinks, according to an online NBC News article. On average, these drinks contain 240 calories vs. 75 calories for regular coffee with one cream and sugar, says CalorieKing Publications chief executive Pat Fiducia. To make your coffee healthier, order the smallest size available, ask that it be made with fat-free milk and skip the flavor syrups and whipped cream topping

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