Instant coffee is often looked down on by coffee drinkers for being “fake coffee,” and most regular coffee fans never give instant coffee a second thought. It’s not like brewing regular coffee is that time-consuming, so instant coffee’s primary benefit isn’t very impactful. Since it also typically has a different flavor that many people don’t like, instant coffee often finds itself out in the cold.
What’s more, some rumors circulate in internet forums and coffee shops that purport that instant coffee isn’t good for you and lacks some of the health benefits that regular coffee is known for. We’re here to dispel that myth and tell you that, although instant coffee is slightly different than regular coffee, it provides many of the same positive effects on your health as ordinary coffee. In this article, we’ll explain the key differences between instant coffee and regular coffee and put to bed the rumor that instant coffee is bad for you once and for all.
What makes instant coffee instant?
Before we tell you whether instant coffee is bad for you, we should start at the beginning. Instant coffee is much better than it used to be and, if you think about it, kind of amazing. “Just add water” has become a cliché, but being able to add water to instant coffee granules, stir, and have coffee in less than 15 seconds is pretty amazing. What about instant coffee makes it possible to prepare so quickly, and why can’t you use regular ground coffee the same way?
Instant coffee is made from concentrated coffee that is rapidly dried to make microscopic granules. When you add those granules to water, you are essentially mixing concentrated coffee with water to get regular strength coffee. This means that instant coffee and regular brewed coffee are fundamentally the same.
Ground coffee needs to be brewed for at least a few minutes in near-boiling water to extract enough oils and compounds to create a flavorful cup. If you add regular ground coffee to water and stir the same way you would to make instant coffee, your drink will start weak and unflavored and get increasingly bitter as the coffee grounds continue to extract. It would be an unpleasant experience — unless you’re making cold brew!
Health Considerations for Instant Coffee
Since we now understand that instant coffee is fundamentally the same as regular coffee, it is unsurprising that instant coffee and regular coffee share the same health benefits. There is one caveat: instant coffee usually has slightly less caffeine than regular coffee, so the caffeine-related health effects are technically reduced in instant coffee, but the differences are small enough to be negligible.
Caffeine has a variety of health benefits that come from its interaction with neurotransmitters in your brain. Some acute effects include improved focus, increased alertness, a general boost to cognitive function, and enhanced short-term memory. There is also mounting evidence that coffee – and instant coffee – contain enough caffeine to provide neuroprotective effects that combat degenerative mental diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Liver health has also been linked with caffeine consumption, and some studies indicate that drinking a few cups of coffee per day can reduce your risk of developing certain types of diabetes.
Coffee is also packed with antioxidants and nutrients that have various health benefits and provide some protection against common forms of cancer. Instant coffee contains all the same antioxidants, so you don’t have to worry about missing out if you prefer it to regular coffee.
The bottom line is that when it comes to whether or not instant coffee is bad for you, know that it’s basically identical to regular coffee with respect to your health. Caffeine has numerous positive effects on brain health and also provides instantaneous boosts to your cognitive function, mood, and focus.
Instant coffee contains enough caffeine to give you nearly identical benefits as regular coffee, so if you’re a regular instant coffee drinker, you’re not missing out on the healthy side effects, even if you’re missing out on some flavor. For the busiest people or people who like to hike and backpack, you can rest assured that your instant coffee habit gives you the same benefits that regular coffee drinkers get from their daily cup.
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Featured Image Credit: Elesban Landero Berriozábal, unsplash