Sometimes words get labels attached to them, an emotion, a feeling. For example, "fruits are good," or "acidity is bad," but the truth is far from reality. In fact, there's even a percentage of people where fruits cause them to have an auto immune style response in their body and it can often go undetected, so no, fruit isn't "good" for everyone and like many things in life, there's nuance and layers.
This nuance also applies to the "acid" in coffee. I put acid in quotation marks because acid seems to be currently labeled as this thing that burns holes in steel and causes damage, however that is very far from the truth. For our bodies to be operating optimally we need a certain pH balance, meaning, we don't want to be too acidic but we also don't want to be too alkaline. Going too far in one direction or the other can lead to a whole host of symptoms and problems making every day functions for your body to be challenging or not working properly. Right now there are many trends around an "alkaline" diet, but very few people seem to be aware of "alkalosis," where if your body's pH balance is too far alkaline it can lead to things such as fatigue, headache, loss of appetite, confusion, vomiting and other ailments. Like the rebound of most nutrition trends, more information on this will begin to make it's way around once enough folks have suffered unfortunately. This is also true for being too acidic, which is why it's important to distinguish the details and not get stuck in labeling all things "good" or "bad."
So let's talk about the acid in coffee and it's health benefits. Anecdotally in countries across the globe we see or meet or hear about the "old man" who eats meat for breakfast daily (bacon in the U.S.) and drinks his black coffee. (Women I know this story holds true for you as well, as I immediately thought of my friend's grandma who was 101 ish when I last saw her and she loved her morning cup of coffee, but let's just roll with the analogy and know I'm not leaving you out). So how can people live well into their 90's, 100's drinking coffee daily but there be all of this recent new concern about the acid in coffee? Simple, bad information and labeling, plus there's always a bunch of other factors not considered for example if you're eating McDonald's cheeseburgers daily with your coffee you're bound to have some other things creep up, but don't blame the coffee. Get it?
What kind of acid is in coffee and why and how is it good for you? The acid in coffee is called Chlorogenic Acids or CGAs. CGAs are actually a combination of acids, and they are antioxidants. Yes, the acids in coffee are actually antioxidants, and if you've heard that word before it means "good for you." Here's a short note from a natural health and wellness blog about CGAs and coffee:
"Antioxidants are critical to health because they inhibit the oxidation caused by free radicals in our bodies. Although we need oxygen to live, as part of free radical compounds, oxygen can actually damage our cells and the genetic material inside them, which can ultimately lead to cancer, high blood pressure, and systemic inflammation. That’s why we want more antioxidants like CGAs in our diet – to combat this process!" - Natural Force Nutrition
So as you can see, not all acids are bad and coffee definitely isn't here to hurt you - but please remember moderation is wise in many areas of life and you probably don't need that 4th cup of coffee today/tonight. Also, CGAs are found in fruits and vegetables too, but you don't read many articles saying "beware of the acid in apples!" Weird huh?
Now here's where it gets fun. Because CGAs are most prolific in the green coffee seed, when you roast coffee beans they lose some of their CGA properties. So the darker the roast the less CGAs you have in your coffee and the less healthy acids. We're not saying ditch your favorite dark roast, but, don't be scared of the more "acidic" medium and light roasts when it comes to your health. And dark roasts are still good too! Hands down my favorite coffee for going on almost a year at the time of this writing has been this Ethiopian medium roast by Shady Lion Coffee Co. When I first got a bag it was a bit of an adjustment in taste, but I figured I would give it a few days, and by day 3 or 4 I remember really going "wow, I can see why this is so good." It was almost like I had never really had high quality coffee in my life before, and I have received many messages over time saying the same exact thing about this coffee. Now some of you know, it is my coffee company so I feel like I should let you know, but the first bag I was drinking back then was part of tasting different coffees to make a final decision on what the first roast would be. I had always been a dark roast guy myself and this medium roast Ethiopian by Shady Lion is the coffee bean that changed my coffee habits and a lot of my ideas about coffee.
Now back to CGAs and "labels." If you go online and research some of the medical and health studies on coffee and CGAs you'll discover there is A LOT to support this gift from mother nature or as some of you might say, a gift from God. We all have different genetic make ups and diversity and I can tell you that for me, I have experimented with all types of nutrition programs and eating styles and exercise and training regiments since I was 15 years old and I can say that black coffee has a positive impact on my life. I also really like adding in things like functional mushrooms such as this one when I travel to keep my immune system strong, or this one on a more regular daily basis for some extra cognitive support or cardiovascular reinforcement.
You know yourself better than anyone if you dig deep enough, but also remember that a lot of stories we tell ourselves are just that, stories, so when you hear something like "the alkaline diet" know that anything in extremes can be harmful, and also know there's nuance so if you enjoy a cup of coffee then enjoy your cup of coffee guilt free because there are numerous health benefits and studies about this wonderful bean such as helping with weight loss and blood pressure, and even blood glucose levels to name just a few. There really are many many more.
So what do you think about the acid in coffee now? Feel free to leave a comment below or you're always welcome to write in too.
*Here's a neat article on LinkedIn from someone with more details, and for great quality coffee shop at www.shadylion.com
**Linkedin Coffee Health Benefits Article: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/7-health-benefits-chlorogenic-acid-side-effects-leo-sun/