Coffee: An Anti-inflammatory Food for Many, But Not For Every One

Most of us think of our morning coffee as a reward for getting out of bed. It turns out that plain coffee can help reduce inflammation. Coffee is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help remove free radicals and decrease oxidative stress, key components of inflammation. If we do not have much variety in our diet, coffee can become one of the primary sources of antioxidants in our diet.

Cinnamon, unsweetened cocoa powder, nutmeg, and cloves all contain phytonutrients that help decrease inflammation and can be delicious additions to coffee. Combining these different phytonutrients may have an even greater benefit on our health than consuming them on their own. Research is just starting to look at the synergistic effects of herbs.

Coffee is high in antioxidants, but it is important to eat a diet rich in different colorful plant foods to get a variety of antioxidants. A couple of easy ways to add antioxidants to our diet are to eat seasonally, eat the rainbow, and add fresh or dried herbs and spices to our meals.

No one food can provide all the benefits we need to fight inflammation. Including a variety of different colorful plant foods getting enough sleep, moving our bodies, managing stress, having close, supportive connections with others, and addressing any microbiome imbalances all contribute to decreasing inflammation.

While the compounds in coffee are anti-inflammatory for some people, in others, coffee can contribute to inflammation. Coffee can be overstimulating, cause digestive issues, interrupt sleep, and increase blood pressure in those who already have high blood pressure. In addition, many people like to add foods that can be inflammatory to their coffee, such as sugar, artificial sweeteners, and milk or cream.

How coffee is grown, stored, and processed can also decrease its anti-inflammatory response. Some people react to the pesticides used to grow coffee or the mold that can grow when coffee beans are stored. Others can react to the chemicals used in processing decaffeinated coffee. Fortunately, organic, mold-free, and Swiss water-processed decaffeinated coffees are available in coffee shops, grocery stores, and online.

Each of our bodies is different. It is important to listen to the signals we hear from our individual bodies. Some foods, even though they are considered healthy and nutrient-dense, may not be for us. While black coffee is a good source of antioxidants, especially when herbs are added, tea may be a better source of antioxidants for some people.

I was interviewed by for an article about ways to spice up your coffee to reduce inflammation. You can read it here.