Drinking espresso is associated with some health risks such as raised cholesterol, increased heart disease risk, and negative side effects of caffeine, the drink’s benefits including its high levels of antioxidants and ability to enhance memory, help weight loss, and increase life expectancy seem to outweigh the risks.
To answer the question of whether or not espresso is good for you, we need to look at the dangers and risks of the drink, and then weigh them against the benefits. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick table comparing the two.
Ok, let’s get started!
- What is Espresso?
- The Dangers of Drinking Espresso
- Blood Pressure
- The Health Benefits of Drinking Espresso
- Weight Loss
- The Verdict
Is Espresso Good for You?
What Is Espresso?
First, we need to break down what espresso is made of.
Espresso is a type of coffee that is served in small shots and is made by forcing pressurized hot water through very finely ground and tightly packed coffee beans. Although espresso is made from the same types of beans as coffee, its unique brewing process makes it much stronger, richer, and higher in caffeine than regular coffee.
This is because when regular “drip” coffee is made, the water is slowly dripped on top of loose coffee grounds, not pressurized through a packed coffee ground “puck.”
Here’s a helpful graphic from Cafebistro.com explaining the difference:
The Dangers of Drinking Espresso
Before we talk about the benefits of espresso, we need to first go over some dangers and risks associated with drinking it.
Espresso May Raise Cholesterol
All coffee beans have an antioxidant known as cafestrol in them. Regular coffee brewed with a filter doesn’t have a lot of cafestrol in it since the filter catches most of it as comes off the beans, however because espresso is brewed without a filter and is a stronger, more concentrated drink, there is more cafestrol in it than regular coffee.
Cafestrol can be dangerous because it can slow down the speed at which your body metabolizes cholesterol. This means that drinking too much espresso with cafestrol in it could raise your cholesterol, increasing your risk of a heart attack or stroke.
The good news is that research has found that cafestrol won’t raise your cholesterol levels unless you drink 3 or more cups of espresso a day which is an amount that most coffee drinkers won’t ever reach. However, if you already have high cholesterol, it could be something to be aware of.
Espresso Can Spike Your Blood Pressure
Studies have found that drinking too much espresso (or caffeine) can dramatically spike your blood pressure.
These effects are short-term and only happen when too much caffeine is drunk too quickly (more than 7 shots of espresso in a day), but can be dangerous, especially for people with already high blood pressure.
Source: Mayo Clinic
The Caffeine in Espresso Can be Dangerous and Addictive
While caffeine has a lot of positive side effects, it can also be dangerous to your health. And its especially important to be aware of caffeine when drinking espresso since it has 6x the amount of caffeine per ounce as regular coffee.
Drinking too much caffeine can interfere with sleep, create feelings of anxiety and jitteriness, increase blood sugar levels, cause headaches, and produce heartbeat abnormalities.
In addition, caffeine can become addictive for some people, leaving them unable to function without it and creating withdrawal symptoms of severe headaches, feeling tired or sleepy, reduced mental alertness, slower reaction times, and worsened performance on memory tasks
Source: Mayo Clinic
The Health Benefits of Drinking Espresso
Now that we have the negatives out of the way, let’s get positive and look at some of the ways drinking espresso may improve your health!
Espresso May Make You Live Longer
Many large studies have found that drinking coffee may actually increase your lifespan.
In one study men and women who drank 4-5 cups of coffee a day had a 12% and 16% reduced risk of early death, respectively.
Other studies show that coffee may make you happier by releasing the feel-good euphoric neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine in your brain, reducing the risk of depression by 20% and suicide by 53%.
Now we can’t just assume that drinking coffee or espresso is the cause of living longer, but it appears that they are associated. So we can probably assume that drinking espresso isn’t likely to make you die any sooner.
Espresso is Packed With Antioxidants
It turns out that coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the Western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined!
These antioxidants in your espresso such as polyphenols, hydrocinnamic acids, cafestol, and melanoidins fight off dangerous diseases, cancers and even aging.
One Italian study found that males who drank a minimum of three cups of Italian-style coffee daily reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer by 53 percent in comparison to those who drank less or none.
Espresso May Enhance Your Memory
A study from the University of California found that drinking the equivalent amount of caffeine of two shots of espresso enhanced participant’s ability to create memories and improved their long-term memory. The study didn’t find improvements for those who drank more than two shots worth of caffeine.
Espresso Can Help You Lose Weight
At only 3 calories a shot, espresso and its high levels of caffeine may be able to help you lose weight by
Daily Espresso May Reduce Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who increased the amount of coffee they drank daily by more than one cup over a four-year period had an 11% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption.
Espresso can make you Happier
Not only does espresso taste good and is enjoyable to drink, but its caffeine acts as a central nervous system stimulant and releases the feel-good chemicals of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain, which can improve your mood, make you more alert and energetic, and increase your productivity.
So is Espresso Good For You?
So is espresso bad for you?
Well if you’re someone who is sensitive to the effects of caffeine or has high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you should be careful about drinking too much. But in general, it seems that espresso is safe to drink and may actually have some health benefits like reducing your risks of certain cancers and diseases, increasing your life expectancy, and improving your mood and productivity.
If you want to learn more about espresso, its benefits, and even how to make it yourself, be sure to check out the rest of our website!
This article was written by Josh, the founder and owner of angryespresso.com. You can learn more about Josh on our About the Team page.