9 Impressive Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee (Plus How to Make It)
Instead of using hot water to draw out the flavor and caffeine of coffee beans, cold brew coffee relies on time by steeping them in cold water for 12–24 hours.
This method makes the drink less bitter than hot coffee.
Though most research on the health benefits of coffee uses hot brew, cold brew is thought to offer many similar effects.
Here are 9 impressive health benefits of cold brew coffee.
1. May Boost Your Metabolism
Metabolism is the process by which your body uses food to create energy.
The higher your metabolic rate, the more calories you burn at rest.
Caffeine appears to boost metabolic rate by increasing how quickly your body burns fat.
In a study in 8 men, ingesting caffeine led to a 13% increase in calorie burning, as well as a 2-fold increase in fat burning — much greater effects than they experienced after taking a placebo or beta-blocker (medication for blood pressure and circulation) (3).
The caffeine in cold brew coffee can increase how many calories you burn at rest. This may make it easier to lose or maintain weight.
2. May Lift Your Mood
The caffeine in cold brew coffee may improve your state of mind.
A review of studies in over 370,000 people found that those who drank coffee had lower rates of depression. In fact, for every cup of coffee consumed per day, depression risk sank by 8% (5).
Some research even suggests that caffeine could be used as a nutritional supplement to boost mood and brain function in older adults.
In a study in 12 adults ages 63–74, taking 1.4 mg of caffeine per pound (3 mg per kg) of body weight improved mood by 17%. This amount of caffeine is equivalent to around two cups of coffee for the average-sized person (6, 7).
Caffeine also improved their ability to react to an object moving toward them, indicating that it increases focus and attentiveness (6).
Drinking cold brew coffee may boost your mood, reduce your risk of depression, and improve brain function.
3. May Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Heart disease is a general term for several conditions that can affect your heart, including coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke. It's the number one cause of death worldwide (8).
Cold brew coffee contains compounds that may reduce your risk of heart disease, including caffeine, phenolic compounds, magnesium, trigonelline, quinides, and lignans. These increase insulin sensitivity, stabilize blood sugar, and lower blood pressure (9, 10).
Drinking 3–5 cups of coffee (15–25 ounces or 450–750 ml) daily may lower your risk of heart disease by up to 15%, compared to people who don't drink coffee (9).
Evidence to suggest that drinking more than 3–5 cups per day increases heart disease risk is lacking, though this effect has not been studied in people who consume more than 600 mg of caffeine per day, the equivalent of about 6 cups of coffee (9, 10, 13).
Regularly drinking cold brew coffee may improve your heart health. However, caffeine should be limited or avoided if you have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
4. May Lower Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a chronic condition in which your blood sugar levels are too high. If left untreated, it can lead to many serious health complications.
Cold brew coffee may reduce your risk of developing this disease. In fact, drinking at least 4–6 cups of coffee per day is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes (14).
These benefits may be largely due to chlorogenic acids, which are powerful antioxidants in coffee (11).
One study in over 36,900 people ages 45–74 found that those who drank at least 4 cups of coffee per day had a 30% lower risk of type 2 diabetes than individuals who didn't drink coffee daily (16).
A review of 3 large studies in more than 1 million people found that those who increased their coffee intake over 4 years had an 11% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, compared to a 17% higher risk in those who reduced their coffee intake by more than 1 cup per day (17).
Regularly drinking cold brew coffee may help keep your blood sugar stable and reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.
5. May Reduce Your Risk of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease
In addition to increasing your attentiveness and mood, cold brew coffee may benefit your brain in other ways.
Caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may affect how your brain functions.
One recent study observed that drinking coffee can protect your brain from age-related diseases (18).
Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are neurodegenerative conditions, which means they are caused by brain cell death that occurs over time. Both illnesses can result in dementia, a decline in mental health that makes daily activities difficult.
Alzheimer's disease is marked by significant memory impairment, while Parkinson's often causes physical tremors and stiffness (19).
One observational study found that people who drank 3–5 cups of coffee per day during mid-life had a 65% lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer's in old age (20).
Another observational study noted that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of Parkinson's disease. In fact, men who drink more than four cups of coffee per day are five times less likely to develop this condition (21, 22).
Cold brew coffee contains compounds called phenylindanes, as well as lower amounts of nonharman and harman compounds. These can help protect your brain from age-related diseases.
6. May Be Easier On Your Stomach Than Hot Coffee
Many people avoid coffee because it's an acidic beverage that may stimulate acid reflux.
Acid reflux is a condition in which stomach acid frequently flows from your stomach back into your esophagus, causing irritation (26).
The acidity of coffee also tends to be blamed for other ailments, such as indigestion and heartburn.
The pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline a solution is from 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral, lower numbers more acidic, and higher numbers more alkaline.
Cold brew and hot coffee generally have similar acidity levels, around 5–6 on the pH scale, though this can vary depending on individual brews.
Another reason why this beverage may be less irritating than hot coffee is its content of crude polysaccharides.
These carbohydrates, or chains of sugar molecules, boost the immunity of your digestive system. This may decrease gut irritation and the bothersome effects of coffee's acidity on your stomach (29).
Cold brew coffee is only slightly less acidic than hot coffee but contains compounds that may protect your stomach from this acidity. As such, it may cause fewer unpleasant digestive and acid reflux symptoms than hot coffee.
7. May Help You Live Longer
A long-term study in 229,119 men and 173,141 women ages 50–71 found that the more coffee people drank, the lower their risk of death from heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, injuries, accidents, diabetes, and infections (31).
One reason for this association may be that coffee is high in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that help prevent cell damage that can lead to chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. These conditions can significantly reduce your lifespan.
Though cold brew coffee contains fewer total antioxidants than hot coffee, it's full of compounds that have high antioxidant activity. Antioxidants help prevent diseases that can reduce your lifespan.
8. Similar Caffeine Content to Hot Coffee
Cold brew coffee is made as a concentrate that's meant to be diluted with water, usually in a 1:1 ratio.
The concentrate is incredibly strong on its own. In fact, undiluted, it provides about 200 mg of caffeine per cup.
However, diluting the concentrate — as is customary — reduces the caffeine content of the final product, bringing it closer to that of regular coffee.
The average cup of hot coffee contains around 95 mg of caffeine, compared to about 100 mg for a typical cold brew.
Cold brew and hot coffee contain similar amounts of caffeine. However, if you drank cold brew coffee concentrate without diluting it, it would provide about twice the caffeine.
9. Very Easy to Make
You can easily make cold brew coffee at home.
1. First, purchase whole roasted coffee beans locally or online and coarsely grind them.
2. Add 8 ounces (226 grams) of grounds to a large jar and gently stir in 2 cups (480 ml) of water.
3. Cover the jar and let the coffee steep in the refrigerator for 12–24 hours.
4. Place cheesecloth into a fine mesh strainer and pour the steeped coffee through it into another jar.
5. Discard the solids that collect on the cheesecloth or save them for other creative uses. The liquid that remains is your cold brew coffee concentrate.
6. Cover the jar with an airtight lid and store your concentrate in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
When you're ready to drink it, add 1/2 cup (120 ml) of cold water to 1/2 cup (120 ml) of cold brew coffee concentrate. Pour this over ice and add cream if desired.
Though it takes significantly longer to prepare than hot coffee, cold brew coffee is very easy to make at home. Mix coarsely ground coffee beans with cold water, let steep for 12–24 hours, strain, and then dilute the concentrate with water at a 1:1 ratio.
The Bottom Line
Cold brew coffee is an enjoyable alternative to hot coffee that you can easily make at home.
It offers many of the same health benefits but is less acidic and less bitter, which may make it more easily tolerated by sensitive individuals.
If you want to mix up your coffee routine, give cold brew coffee a try and see how it compares to your usual hot cup of joe.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Ana Maldonado-Contreras
- Your gut is home to trillions of bacteria that are vital for keeping you healthy.
- Some of these microbes help to regulate the immune system.
- New research, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, shows the presence of certain bacteria in the gut may reveal which people are more vulnerable to a more severe case of COVID-19.
You may not know it, but you have an army of microbes living inside of you that are essential for fighting off threats, including the virus that causes COVID-19.
How Do Resident Bacteria Keep You Healthy?<p>Our immune defense is part of a complex biological response against harmful pathogens, such as viruses or bacteria. However, because our bodies are inhabited by trillions of mostly beneficial bacteria, virus and fungi, activation of our immune response is tightly regulated to distinguish between harmful and helpful microbes.</p><p>Our bacteria are spectacular companions diligently helping prime our immune system defenses to combat infections. A seminal study found that mice treated with antibiotics that eliminate bacteria in the gut exhibited an impaired immune response. These animals had low counts of virus-fighting white blood cells, weak antibody responses and poor production of a protein that is vital for <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1019378108" target="_blank">combating viral infection and modulating the immune response</a>.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184976" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">In another study</a>, mice were fed <em>Lactobacillus</em> bacteria, commonly used as probiotic in fermented food. These microbes reduced the severity of influenza infection. The <em>Lactobacillus</em>-treated mice did not lose weight and had only mild lung damage compared with untreated mice. Similarly, others have found that treatment of mice with <em>Lactobacillus</em> protects against different <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/srep04638" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">subtypes of</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-17487-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">influenza</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">virus</a> and human respiratory syncytial virus – the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-39602-7" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">major cause of viral bronchiolitis and pneumonia in children</a>.</p>
Chronic Disease and Microbes<p>Patients with chronic illnesses including Type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease exhibit a hyperactive immune system that fails to recognize a harmless stimulus and is linked to an altered gut microbiome.</p><p>In these chronic diseases, the gut microbiome lacks bacteria that activate <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">immune cells</a> that block the response against harmless bacteria in our guts. Such alteration of the gut microbiome is also observed in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1002601107" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">babies delivered by cesarean section</a>, individuals consuming a poor <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature12820" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">diet</a> and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11053" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elderly</a>.</p><p>In the U.S., 117 million individuals – about half the adult population – <a href="https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">suffer from Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease or a combination of them</a>. That suggests that half of American adults carry a faulty microbiome army.</p><p>Research in my laboratory focuses on identifying gut bacteria that are critical for creating a balanced immune system, which fights life-threatening bacterial and viral infections, while tolerating the beneficial bacteria in and on us.</p><p>Given that diet affects the diversity of bacteria in the gut, <a href="https://www.umassmed.edu/nutrition/melody-trial-info/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">my lab studies show how diet can be used</a> as a therapy for chronic diseases. Using different foods, people can shift their gut microbiome to one that boosts a healthy immune response.</p><p>A fraction of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, develop severe complications that require hospitalization in intensive care units. What do many of those patients have in common? <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Old age</a> and chronic diet-related diseases like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.</p><p><a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.12.019" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Black and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease</a>, all of which are linked to poor nutrition. Thus, it is not a coincidence that <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6933e1.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these groups have suffered more deaths from COVID-19</a> compared with whites. This is the case not only in the U.S. but also <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/blacks-in-britain-are-four-times-as-likely-to-die-of-coronavirus-as-whites-data-show/2020/05/07/2dc76710-9067-11ea-9322-a29e75effc93_story.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">in Britain</a>.</p>
Discovering Microbes That Predict COVID-19 Severity<p>The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired me to shift my research and explore the role of the gut microbiome in the overly aggressive immune response against SARS-CoV-2 infection.</p><p>My colleagues and I have hypothesized that critically ill SARS-CoV-2 patients with conditions like obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease exhibit an altered gut microbiome that aggravates <a href="https://theconversation.com/exercise-may-help-reduce-risk-of-deadly-covid-19-complication-ards-136922" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">acute respiratory distress syndrome</a>.</p><p>Acute respiratory distress syndrome, a life-threatening lung injury, in SARS-CoV-2 patients is thought to develop from a <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cytogfr.2020.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">fatal overreaction of the immune response</a> called a <a href="https://theconversation.com/blocking-the-deadly-cytokine-storm-is-a-vital-weapon-for-treating-covid-19-137690" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cytokine storm</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">that causes an uncontrolled flood</a> <a href="http://doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30216-2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of immune cells into the lungs</a>. In these patients, their own uncontrolled inflammatory immune response, rather than the virus itself, causes the <a href="http://doi.org/10.1007/s00134-020-05991-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">severe lung injury and multiorgan failures</a> that lead to death.</p><p>Several studies <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.trsl.2020.08.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">described in one recent review</a> have identified an altered gut microbiome in patients with COVID-19. However, identification of specific bacteria within the microbiome that could predict COVID-19 severity is lacking.</p><p>To address this question, my colleagues and I recruited COVID-19 hospitalized patients with severe and moderate symptoms. We collected stool and saliva samples to determine whether bacteria within the gut and oral microbiome could predict COVID-19 severity. The identification of microbiome markers that can predict the clinical outcomes of COVID-19 disease is key to help prioritize patients needing urgent treatment.</p><p><a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.01.05.20249061" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">We demonstrated</a>, in a paper which has not yet been peer reviewed, that the composition of the gut microbiome is the strongest predictor of COVID-19 severity compared to patient's clinical characteristics commonly used to do so. Specifically, we identified that the presence of a bacterium in the stool – called <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em>– was a robust predictor of COVID-19 severity. Not surprisingly, <em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> has been associated with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2011.05.035" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">chronic</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9440(10)61172-8" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">inflammation</a>.</p><p><em>Enterococcus faecalis</em> collected from feces can be grown outside of the body in clinical laboratories. Thus, an <em>E. faecalis</em> test might be a cost-effective, rapid and relatively easy way to identify patients who are likely to require more supportive care and therapeutic interventions to improve their chances of survival.</p><p>But it is not yet clear from our research what is the contribution of the altered microbiome in the immune response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. A recent study has shown that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.12.11.416180" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">SARS-CoV-2 infection triggers an imbalance in immune cells</a> called <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/imr.12170" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">T regulatory cells that are critical to immune balance</a>.</p><p>Bacteria from the gut microbiome are responsible for the <a href="https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.30916.001" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">proper activation</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1198469" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">of those T-regulatory</a> <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/nri.2016.36" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cells</a>. Thus, researchers like me need to take repeated patient stool, saliva and blood samples over a longer time frame to learn how the altered microbiome observed in COVID-19 patients can modulate COVID-19 disease severity, perhaps by altering the development of the T-regulatory cells.</p><p>As a Latina scientist investigating interactions between diet, microbiome and immunity, I must stress the importance of better policies to improve access to healthy foods, which lead to a healthier microbiome. It is also important to design culturally sensitive dietary interventions for Black and Latinx communities. While a good-quality diet might not prevent SARS-CoV-2 infection, it can treat the underlying conditions related to its severity.</p><p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/ana-maldonado-contreras-1152969" target="_blank">Ana Maldonado-Contreras</a> is an assistant professor of Microbiology and Physiological Systems at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.</em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Ana Maldonado-Contreras receives funding from The Helmsley Charitable Trust and her work has been supported by the American Gastroenterological Association. She received The Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. She is also member of the Diversity Committee of the American Gastroenterological Association.</em></p><p><em style="">Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/a-healthy-microbiome-builds-a-strong-immune-system-that-could-help-defeat-covid-19-145668" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" style="">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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