The Myth about Mycotoxins in Coffee
Is your morning cup doing you more harm than help? Study after study has been done on the health benefits of coffee, but not everyone agrees that the benefits outweigh the consequences. Some claim that commercial coffee is contaminated with dangerous mycotoxins, which can cause people to perform badly and have a higher risk of disease.
What are Mycotoxins?
Mold, which is a type of fungus, is found almost everywhere in very small quantities. Mold can grow on edible crops and produce by-products called mycotoxins. There are hundreds of different mycotoxins with different functions. For example, mycotoxins are used to create the antibiotic Penicillin. We’re mostly interested in the two mycotoxins that are found most commonly in coffee: Aflatoxin B1 and Ochratoxin A. Aflatoxin B1 is a known carcinogen and is also commonly found in peanuts, corn, tree nuts, and dairy. Ochratoxin A hasn’t been studied as much, but it has been associated with kidney disease, and it is also commonly found in grains. However, it’s important to remember that “the dose makes the poison.”
Mycotoxin Prevention and Regulation
Generally speaking, high moisture content, high humidity, and high temperatures can promote the growth of mold and related toxins. The standards of processing and storing green coffee can reduce the growth of mold by regulating these factors, and studies have found that the roasting process can destroy up to 80% of mycotoxins. Additionally, the FDA has regulated mycotoxins in food and drinks for years, and the amount that they allow is far below the amount you would have to ingest to cause yourself harm. If you’re really worried about mycotoxins, you can buy single origin coffee from regions at a higher elevation that has been wet processed. Higher elevation reduces the chance of a high moisture content, and wet processing discourages the growth of mold in green beans compared to dry processing.
Mycotoxins are by-products of mold that can be found in many things, including coffee, grains, and tree nuts, but they are only harmful if they’re ingested in large amounts. FDA regulations only allow a very small amount of mycotoxins in food and drinks, and most coffee is processed with the intention of reducing mold growth. If you want to reduce your exposure to mycotoxins in coffee, you can buy high mountain grown single origin coffee that has been wet processed. At the end of the day, the health benefits of coffee outweigh the negatives, so feel free to enjoy your pick-me-up without worry.