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One Major Side Effect of Using Coffee Pods, New Study Says

Researchers are raising awareness about a hormone-disrupting chemical that may be present in your cup.
FACT CHECKED BY Joseph Neese

If you prepare your morning brew using a single-cup coffee machine, you're well aware of how quickly it satisfies your caffeine fix. While this is a convenient option, it could also have potential consequences on your health. Now, researchers are raising awareness about a hormone-disrupting chemical that may also be trickling into your cup.

A team of nutrition and engineering researchers at the University of Connecticut is currently investigating the health effects of drinking coffee that's brewed through a plastic pod. In the journal Current Research in Toxicology, they recently observed that "coffee brewed from capsule machines may contain estrogenic chemicals migrated from plastic."

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In an interview with Eat This, Not That!, lead researcher Ock Chun explained that in general terms, these "estrogenic chemicals," which can mimic estrogen, are often found in plastic coffee pods. They could then go on to potentially disrupt the body's endocrinologic (hormone) regulation.

According to Chun, this may be a result of the brewing process, when high temperature and pressure are added to the plastic pod to extract flavorful coffee quickly. Those factors could also lead the chemicals to contaminate the coffee powder inside.

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You may consider trying reusable stainless steel pods like the ones in this photo instead.

 

For now, Chun suggests that it's not quite time to sound the alarm, as the work of the researchers remains ongoing.

"We are exposed to those chemicals from everywhere these days," she said, pointing to disposable cups and even the paper on which grocery store receipts are printed as other sources of similar estrogenic chemicals.

Because "coffee-drinking is a habitual behavior," Chun said the researchers viewed this study as worthy of investigation.

If you have been pondering a shift from plastic coffee pods to a possibly healthier option, you may not have to completely toss out your single-serving coffee machine. Many retailers sell reusable stainless steel coffee pods, which are easy to wash and friendlier to the environment.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at <em>Eat This, Not That!</em>, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more
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