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Which Coffee is Healthier, Light or Dark Roast?

Which Coffee is Healthier, Light or Dark Roast?

If you look around on the internet and try to figure out which types of coffee are healthier, you are going to find a myriad of answers that run a full gamut of beliefs and opinions. Some experts believe light roasted coffee holds the most health benefits for you, while others believe that the darker the roast, the more health benefits the coffee has for you.  One thing everyone seems to agree on is that coffee contains antioxidants, no matter how it is roasted. So lets take a look at some of the health benefits and differences between light and dark roasted coffee. 

Antioxidants are man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage.  While all coffee has antioxidants, some experts argue that polyphenols are only present in lighter roasts.  What are polyphenols you ask? Good question! They are a category of compounds naturally found in certain plants that can behave similarly to antioxidants, neutralizing free radicals. Studies suggest that diets rich in polyphenols may offer protection against development of certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

So, lighter roasted coffee wins, right? Well... not necessarily. Antioxidant activity significantly rises with the degree of roasting. For example, strongly roasted dark coffee has higher antioxidant activity than lightly roasted coffee. And those antioxidants could compensate for the lack of polyphenols in dark roasts.  

So, while light roast contains more polyphenols, dark roast may have more antioxidants.  Additionally, the region where coffee beans are cultivated is a significant factor in the number of antioxidants. Research has found that Arabic coffee, cultivated in Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Brazil, has the highest total antioxidant content.

When it comes to the health benefits of coffee, doing research gave me whiplash.  More significantly I am no M.D.  All I know is I drink it and I like the taste. I will leave the ultimate determination as to which roast is healthier to you, the drinker, to choose for yourself!