Instant coffee is very popular in many areas of the world.
It may even account for more than 50% of all coffee consumption in some countries.
Instant coffee is faster, cheaper, and easier to make than regular coffee.
You may know that drinking regular coffee is linked to many health benefits but wonder whether the same benefits apply to instant coffee.
This article explains everything you need to know about instant coffee and its health effects.
What is instant coffee?
Instant coffee is a type of coffee made from dried coffee extract.
Like regular coffee is brewed, the extract is made by brewing ground coffee beans, although it’s more concentrated.
After brewing, the water is removed from the extract to make dry fragments or powder, which dissolve when added to water.
There are two main ways to make instant coffee:
- Spray-drying. Coffee extract is sprayed into hot air, quickly dries the droplets, and turns them into fine powder or small pieces.
- Freeze-drying. The coffee extract is frozen and cut into small fragments, then dried at a low temperature under vacuum conditions.
Both methods preserve the quality, aroma, and flavor of the coffee.
The most common way to prepare instant coffee is to add one teaspoon of powder to a cup of hot water.
The strength of the coffee can easily be adjusted by adding more or less powder to your cup.
Summary: Instant coffee is made from brewed coffee that has had the water removed. To make instant coffee, add one teaspoon of powder to a cup of warm water.
Instant coffee contains antioxidants and nutrients
Coffee is the most significant source of antioxidants in the modern diet.
Its high antioxidant content is believed to be responsible for many of its associated health benefits.
Like regular coffee, instant coffee contains many powerful antioxidants.
According to one study, instant coffee may contain even higher amounts of certain antioxidants than other brews due to its processing.
Furthermore, one standard cup of instant coffee contains only seven calories and small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and niacin (vitamin B3).
Summary: Instant coffee is full of powerful antioxidants, and it may even contain higher amounts of some antioxidants than other types of coffee.
Instant coffee contains slightly less caffeine
Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant in the world, and coffee is its most significant dietary source.
However, instant coffee generally contains slightly less caffeine than regular coffee.
One cup of instant coffee containing one teaspoon of powder may have 30–90 mg of caffeine, while one cup of regular coffee contains 70–140 mg.
Since sensitivity to caffeine varies by individual, instant coffee may be a better choice for those who need to cut back on caffeine.
Instant coffee is also available in decaf, which contains even less caffeine.
Too much caffeine may cause anxiety, disrupted sleep, restlessness, upset stomach, tremors, and a fast heartbeat.
Summary: A cup of instant coffee containing one teaspoon of powder generally contains 30–90 mg of caffeine, while regular coffee contains 70–140 mg per cup.
Instant coffee contains more acrylamide
Acrylamide is a potentially harmful chemical that forms when coffee beans are roasted.
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This chemical is also commonly found in various foods, smoke, household items, and personal care products.
Interestingly, instant coffee may contain up to twice as much acrylamide as fresh, roasted coffee.
Overexposure to acrylamide may damage the nervous system and increase cancer risk.
However, the amount of acrylamide you’re exposed to through diet and coffee is much lower than the harmful amount.
Therefore, drinking instant coffee should not cause concern regarding acrylamide exposure.
Summary: Instant coffee contains up to twice as much acrylamide as regular coffee, but this amount is still lower than the amount considered harmful.
Like regular coffee, instant coffee may have several health benefits
Drinking coffee has been linked to many health benefits.
Given that instant coffee contains the same antioxidants and nutrients as regular coffee, it should provide most of the same health effects.
Drinking instant coffee may:
- Enhance brain function. Its caffeine content can improve brain function.
- Boost metabolism. Its caffeine may increase metabolism and help you burn more fat.
- Reduce disease risk. Coffee may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Decrease diabetes risk. Coffee may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Improve liver health. Coffee and caffeine may reduce the risk of liver diseases like cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Improve mental health. Coffee may help lower the risk of depression and suicide.
- Promote longevity. Drinking coffee may help you live longer.
However, it’s essential to remember that many of these studies were observational.
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These studies can’t prove that coffee causes a reduced risk of disease — only that people who habitually drink coffee are less likely to develop the disease.
If you’re wondering how much coffee to drink, consuming 3–5 cups of instant coffee each day may be optimal. Studies have often linked this amount to the highest risk reductions.
Summary: Instant coffee offers most of the same health benefits as regular coffee, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and liver disease.
Instant coffee is quick, easy, and doesn’t require a coffee maker. It also has a long shelf life and is cheaper than regular coffee.
Therefore, it may be convenient when traveling or on the go.
Instant coffee contains slightly less caffeine and more acrylamide than regular coffee but retains most of the same antioxidants.
Overall, instant coffee is a healthy, low-calorie beverage linked to the same health benefits as other types of coffee.