I love coffee, and we know it has health benefits. It can decrease your risk of diabetes, protect against Parkinson’s, and lower the risk of depression. But for all the benefits of coffee, it has its downside too. The good news is, there are simple ways to avoid those downsides. So here are a few coffee tweaks you should know about.

  • For example, if you have high cholesterol, you need to use a paper filter when brewing your coffee. That’s because unfiltered coffee, like espresso, or what you’d get from a French press, has a molecule called cafestol, which is the most potent cholesterol raising substance in the human diet. But simply brewing coffee with a paper filter, which is what most of us do, removes almost all the cafestol. Paper filters do a better job than metal filters, and single serving K-cups have them built in.

  • The next way to make coffee healthier is for anyone at risk for heart disease: Switch to decaf. If you already have 3 or more factors linked to heart disease, like being overweight, a smoker, and high blood pressure, and you drink regular coffee, you’re setting yourself up for a heart attack. That’s because the jolt from the caffeine causes blood pressure to briefly spike. And if you have all those other factors in place, it could push you over the edge toward a heart attack. Switch to decaf and you’re good. 

  • The final health problem associated with coffee: Acid reflux. If that’s a problem for you, switch to a darker roast. It may taste stronger, but the roasting process produces a compound that slows the production of stomach acid. Dark roasts also have less caffeine, which can also trigger acid reflux. So go dark for acid reflux.