Which is Healthier – Black Coffee Or Coffee With Milk?

by | Oct 22, 2017 | General

How do you enjoy taking your coffee? Are you the type of person who prefers one of those tall glasses of milky, frothy, light-brown coloured latte? Or would you rather order a strong, black double espresso?

Whichever one is your favourite, don’t you think it’s interesting to find out which one is healthier, black coffee or coffee with milk? In this piece, we investigate each option so you can work out whether or not your coffee of choice is doing you any good, or maybe possibly putting a strain on your health.

What’s In Milk?

Now, generally cow’s milk is good for you and adults are recommended two servings a day (that’s 250 ml). It’s a great source of Vitamin D. Adults living in the Western world lack vitamin D because many climates don’t have much sunshine and people spend their days working indoors. Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones.

It’s also a good source of calcium which is another nutrient that is essential for healthy bones and teeth.

Remember, there are different types of milk; whole milk, semi-skimmed and skimmed (not to mention milk derived from coconuts, almonds, soya etc.). Each of these types of milk has a different level of fat. For example, whole milk generally contains 4% fat; semi-skimmed contains 2% fat and skimmed 0.5% fat. There is also a difference in calories for each type of milk. A serving of whole milk (approximately 250 ml) equals 146 calories (71 from fat). One cup of 2% milk contains 122 calories with 43 calories from fat and skimmed milk contains 86 calories with 4 calories derived from fat.

Whole Milk and semi-skimmed also contains 28% daily value of an adults required calcium intake, skimmed milk contains 50% recommended daily value of calcium. Milk is an excellent source of potassium which is needed by the body to lower blood pressure. Whole milk containing 349mg, semi-skimmed 366mg and skimmed 410 mg. Additionally, whole milk contains 7.86g of protein, 12.83g of sugars and 100mg of sodium. Semi-skimmed contains 8.05g of protein, 12.35 g of sugars and 100mg of sodium. Skimmed milk contains 8.4g of protein, 11.98 g of sugars and 128g of sodium.

Generally, unless you suffer from milk intolerance, milk is important for bones, teeth and getting Vitamin D into the body. However, it has to be mentioned that too much milk is fattening and can eventually take its toll, encouraging extra calories.

The Scientific Effect of Milk In Coffee

For those of you who enjoy milk in your coffee, there’s no doubt that you add it for flavour rather than for any positive benefits. There’s quite a lot of research on the effects of milk in coffee and adding milk can actually hinder some of the benefits of coffee. As it so happens, there are various reports that show coffee can help to boost memory and even potentially lower the risk of developing certain types of liver cancer. Could adding milk be reducing those benefits?

Nestle in Switzerland has conducted plenty of extensive research on the subject. They were the original group of scientists that discovered that the beneficial nutrients polyphenols are released for a long time into the body’s bloodstream after drinking black coffee.

They then continued their research to include non-dairy creamer and regular milk, to see if adding it to coffee had any effect on polyphenols.

Understanding Polyphenols

Firstly, polyphenols are very important anti-oxidants that are necessary to help to minimise cell damage and prevent cell breakdown. The body is attacked with free radicals every day. These free radicals come from environmental pollutants such as smoke, industrial fumes, petrol fumes, the sun and other toxins. They act by encouraging the breakdown of cells in the body. It’s up to the body to fight back and the body needs anti-oxidants to do so. That’s why polyphenols are an important nutrient.

Following the study, results showed that adding milk to coffee does not greatly affect the time it takes polyphenols to reach the blood. So we know that adding milk or taking your coffee black won’t affect the anti-oxidant reaction associated with polyphenols!

Milk Adds Fat

Now, while milk is good for you, whole milk is tremendously fattening and too much semi-skimmed milk can also lead to unwanted weight gain. The fact is, if you are trying to lose weight or maintain your weight loss it’s wise to completely avoid milk in your coffee. A cup of plain black coffee is only 4.7 calories whereas add milk and a sugar cube and you’re looking at upping your calorie intake to around 57 calories. That’s a big difference, especially if you drink three or more cups a day.

Coffee Is A Great Stimulant

Coffee is also good for stimulating your mind and keeping you alert because of the caffeine content. This is why so many people particularly enjoy a morning cup of coffee. In fact, the average American drinks 2.1 cups of coffee a day, and one of these will normally be in the morning. While the Brits enjoy a total of 55 million cups a day, you can bet that at least one cup will be drunk as a wake-up beverage.

Did you know that completely black coffee definitely increases energy and even clarity and because there’s no dairy added to it. This means that there’s nothing to diminish these benefits. However, drink completely black coffee at night and you could end up being awake for hours on end. Adding a little milk does diminish these stimulant effects but only slightly. If you are one of those people who finds caffeine lingers in their system long into the night, then it’s best to avoid drinking any coffee at all from the middle of the afternoon.

Milky Coffee Can Help With Acid Problems

Milk in your coffee does help with acid reflux and remember that black coffee has high PH levels so is acidic. If you suffer with an acidic stomach, it’s better to have coffee with milk to balance the PH levels. You should also completely avoid black coffee.

Beware Very Hot Black Coffee!

If you’re one of those people sensitive to hot drinks then be aware that drinking steaming hot black coffee can increase your risk of thermal burns inside the oesophagus. Oesophagus cancer is sometimes triggered by burnt tissue in this area so if you think you might be at risk, add milk and cool your coffee down. Or wait until your black coffee has significantly reduced its temperature before drinking it.

The Verdict

So what’s the final verdict? Well, as with anything, there are disadvantages and advantages to adding milk to your coffee. Likewise, there is good and bad associated with taking your coffee black. It depends on the type of person you are and what your tolerance levels are too. So if you are milk intolerant, of course, you must avoid cow’s milk. If you have a family history of oesophagus cancer, don’t drink coffee boiling hot and black. If you are prone to weight gain, you might benefit from removing dairy from your coffee. As it so happens, health experts usually suggest adding semi skimmed milk or milk substitute to coffee because whole milk is fattening, as well as fat, it contains high carbohydrate counts.

The truth is, however you take your coffee, you aren’t going to greatly damage your health with or without milk, as long as you are mindful of temperature, time of day you drink your coffee and maintaining a healthy weight.

 

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