Instant coffee has some advantages over non-instant brands, but you should consider in context the acrylamide content, which recent research suggests may be carcinogenic.
Instant coffee is basically concentrated coffee dust. It has a few advantages over non-instant coffee - there’s some evidence that instant coffee has more flavonoids, which can help to protect against cancer, and less cafestol, which can lead to heart disease. Some studies have produced early evidence that instant coffee is better than non-instant at improving long-term heart health and protecting against chronic heart disease.
It’s not clear whether instant coffee is particularly good at protecting the heart - right now, the research we have reinforces the notion that moderate coffee consumption of any kind is good for the heart. Coffee also reduces your chance of developing type II diabetes.
Instant coffee, like regular coffee is a stimulant. It’ll make you more awake and more concentrated. Drink too much, and you might experience an elevated heart rate, sweating, nervousness, or muscle tics.
Instant coffee also contains a chemical called acrylamide. It shows up in foods that have been heated above 120 degrees celsius - that is, foods which have been toasted, baked, or roasted during preparation. Animal studies and direct exposure of cells to acrylamide have shown that it can raise the risk of developing certain cancers. So far, human studies have not conclusively reproduced this data - results are mixed. Still, regulatory agencies and medical associations recommend that you limit your intake of acrylamide.
That’s a problem with instant coffee. The Food and Drug Administration collects data on a regular basis of levels of acrylamide in different foods. The data they’ve collected vary from year to year, but there’s a clear trend - certain brands of instant coffee, particularly decaf and light varieties, have higher levels of acrylamide than non-instant coffee. The FDA’s survey data from 2003 is particularly worrying; instant coffees showed more acrylamide than most of the foods on their survey aside from certain varieties of wheat thins and potato chips. If you’re worried about acrylamide in your food, you should consult with your medical provider about the risks and how to properly structure your diet.
Possible short-term side effects
- muscle tremors
- elevated heart rate
Possible long-term side effects
Ingredients to be aware of
- reduces risk of heart disease
- reduces risk of type ii diabetes
- may help prevent some forms of cancer
- contains less cholesterol than regular coffee
- cheaper than regular coffee
- non-instant coffee