A cup of hot coffee is a part of the morning routine of many of us. And I believe that only a few lucky ones get to start their day with freshly brewed roasted coffee. The rest of us have to make do with the instant variety. Actually, there is a simmering debate as to which type is better, and as far as the popular perception goes, roasted coffee seems to be winning.
There are concerns related to the effect or effects instant coffee might have on our health. In this article, we will try to get the answer if those concerns are justified.
Let us first see what instant coffee is.
What Is Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is previously brewed coffee which has undergone a process of spray drying or freeze drying to remove the water content. These processes produce a highly soluble form of coffee powder which just needs to be mixed with hot water to obtain a drinkable concoction.
What’s In It?
The next logical questions would be about the nutritional profile of instant coffee, and how much caffeine it has.
The caffeine content in instant coffee is slightly less compared to roasted coffee, and it is considered to be safe. According to research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority, the caffeine content in instant coffee varies from 27 to 173 mg per cup of 237 ml, whereas a single dose of caffeine up to 200 mg does not give rise to safety concerns (source).
Caffeine Causes Mental Alertness
Research has shown that caffeine present in roasted and instant coffee may enhance memory performance in young adults during their non-optimal time of day (source) and also may reduce time of day effects on memory performance in older adults (source).
It is worth noting here that excessive consumption of caffeine may cause sleep deprivation and other mental health issues.
Nutrients In Instant Coffee
There are nutrients in instant coffee too, such as biotin, niacin, magnesium, and manganese, among others. And then there are antioxidants, which are present in abundance in instant coffee. Research has found that due to some concentration taking place during the extraction process, some varieties of instant coffee may contain greater amounts of antioxidants compared to roasted coffee (source).
Antioxidants help fight inflammation, reduce the risk of diseases, including certain types of cancer, and promote overall well-being (source).
May Protect The Liver
A research study has shown that “increased consumption of caffeinated coffee and, to a lesser extent, decaffeinated coffee are associated with reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), including in pre-existing liver disease.”(source)
Now that we have seen what is good in instant coffee, let us take a look at what can be bad in it.
Genuine Concerns About Instant Coffee
Acrylamide is believed to be both neurotoxic and carcinogenic. It is formed when certain types of foods are cooked at high heat, and can form during the manufacturing of instant coffee as well. According to a research study, a higher concentration of acrylamide was found in instant coffee (358 microg/kg) compared to roasted coffee (179 microg/kg) (source).
However, there are also claims that the level of acrylamide found in coffee, including instant coffee, is generally considered safe for consumption.
The key to safety here is to consume instant coffee in moderation, and one should take that advice seriously.
Some brands of instant coffee come with additives, which may be some form of caramel or other flavoring substances. Some of these additives may not be suitable for individuals with specific dietary restrictions.
Reading the product labels carefully before buying instant coffee may help avoid those risks.
As with any type of food, instant coffee comes with health benefits as well as risks. The antioxidants and other nutrients are good for us. But at the same time, there are risks emanating from the presence of acrylamide and caffeine.
While moderate consumption of instant coffee is considered generally safe, one needs to be mindful of specific individual sensitivity to caffeine and other potentially harmful substances present in it.
This article is meant for general awareness only and is not intended to be used as medical or expert advice.