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Starbucks Cold Brew Can Help Your Health (As Long As You Don’t Do This 1 Thing)

Gen Z Loves Its Cold Drinks — Here's How Iced Coffee Can Help You

Thirsty Gen Z customers swarming to Starbucks helped drive the coffee giant to an unprecedented third quarter, founder and interim CEO Howard Shultz said during an August 3 conference call. Frappuccinos, Dragon Drink Refreshers, and Pumpkin Cream Cold Brews helped lead the beverage giant to a record $8.2 billion in revenue.

Schultz reported that iced coffee and other cold beverages accounted for 75 percent of its beverage sales in the quarter — a Gen Z favorite that young consumers like to customize and then post their creations on social media.

A Starbucks iced coffee.
Matthias Cooper

All that sugar and syrup is not very healthy as a consistent consumable. But these young folks have it half right — sans the saccharine add-ons, cold brew coffee, like hot coffee, can encourage brain health as a regular part of your diet. Scientific research shows that in addition to improving mental acuity, the iced version may prove even more healthy than its hot cousin.

Here, The Manual shows how your cold brew coffee consumption can keep the body in shape and the mind sharp, and even help prevent several diseases.

A More Potent Energetic Jolt

Caffeine is what gives coffee its jolt. And in cold brew coffee, extra caffeine adds an extra spark.

What is cold brew coffee? Typically steeped in a lower concentration of water for a longer duration at ambient or cold temperatures, the resulting black batch offers a higher caffeine concentration than quick-brewed hot coffee. Cold brew’s naturally elevated caffeine content encourages more focus, better attention, and blissful, productive wakefulness.

A second factor: people tend to buy cold brew and other iced drinks in larger quantities than their hot peers. This causes faster consumption, especially through a straw. The quicker you sip your cold brew, the harder the java hits.

Higher Caffeine Levels Keep You Going

Caffeine is a stimulant chemical compound, which increases brain activity. A research article on caffeine’s energizing effects breaks down how adenosine, a natural human neurotransmitter, levels up throughout your day until hitting a dozy tipping point, instigating a sleepy wind down. Caffeine invigorates, in part, by binding to adenosine receptors in the brain, decreasing its impact.

Careful, though. Too much caffeine has negative health effects. In high doses (three to five cups a day), the stimulant can make you anxious and jittery, affecting sleep, digestion, blood pressure, and heart rate. In moderate amounts, however, caffeine can be an elixir.

Caffeine Encourages Happy Minds

The magic ingredient that can give you more zing in the morning (or afternoon) can also improve your overall mood. According to an article published in Psychology Today, caffeine helps the brain to increase dopamine absorption when it binds and blocks adenosine receptors. Dopamine stimulates the part of your brain associated with reward and motivation, which can lead to more positive feelings.

The author, Berit Broggard, goes on to explain how depression may be an immune reaction that causes brain inflammation. Chinese researchers hypothesize that coffee may help ease this particular inflammation, owing to “its special combination of antioxidants.”

Whatever the source, the March 2016 issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, suggested one cup of coffee reduces depression risk by 8%, according to the mental health magazine.

Caffeine Can Be Preventative, Too

In eliminating free radicals from the body, these naturally occurring antioxidants not only can help prevent depression, but decreased the risk for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

A Mayo Clinic article explains how free radicals build up in cells as a result of routine metabolism, especially for typical Americans with low-nutrient diets. Oxidative compounds damage cells leading to elevated risks from cancer, arthritis, dementia, and other major health issues.

More caffeine can improve cognitive function, and help protect the brain from degenerative dementia and other neural disorders.

Cold Brew Can Help Men Maintain Erections

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, erectile dysfunction is very common, affecting about 30 million men in the United States. Once again, then, antioxidants can come to the rescue.

Antioxidants in coffee can help promote better blood flow, leading to longer-lasting erections and improved sexual health. (As asserted earlier, sugar and cream in your iced drink can add just as many debilitating effects.)

A study in the journal PLOS ONE, caffeine intake “reduced the odds of prevalent ED.” This conclusion comes from data analyzed from 3724 men who drank the equivalent of two to three cups of coffee per day. Since erectile function requires blood flowing through vessels via a healthy cardiovascular system, it makes sense that caffeine would benefit as an extension of these cardiovascular benefits.

Cold Brew Is Easier On Stomachs

One of the challenges of hot coffee is its acidic component. Coffee can be hard on stomachs and cause heartburn. Cold brew, on the other hand, steeps in coffee grounds and cold water, often for an entire day. This leads to a smoother brew and a less acidic effect than regular coffee. This translates to an easier punch to the digestive system, particularly for heartburn sufferers and sensitive stomachs.

A Smoother Drink Can Help You Lose Weight

A smoother, less acidic cold brew is often a tastier choice for consumers. In this case, there’s less need to mask an astringent taste by dumping cream, milk, honey, caramel, chocolate, and/or sugar into your cup. Dodging this calorie bomb can also help to increase your metabolic rate and reduce body fat by about 4%, according to a Harvard study.

Reduced Sweeteners Means Downsized Diabetes Risk

In case you need more reason to dodge Dunkin Donuts brown sugar cold brew and Starbucks chocolate cream cold brew, avoiding these over-sweet drinks reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Dutch study involved a prospective cohort of 40,011 participants with a mean follow-up of 10 years. Data showed that 918 incident cases of type 2 diabetes developed, and those who drank three or more cups of regular-strength coffee a day — the equivalent of about one and a half cold brews — were more than 40% less likely to contract type 2 diabetes.

Nothing is guaranteed in this life, but you can tilt some odds in your favor. A smooth cold brew can help your body and mind now and down the road.

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Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
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