8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Healthier
Coffee is one of the most popular and universally loved drinks in the world. It has been shown to improve cognitive function and some studies claim it helps fight against Parkinson's disease and liver disease. However, too much consumption of coffee can lead to higher cholesterol levels, but everyone knows there is such a thing as too much coffee (Mayo Clinic). Essentially, coffee is a better alternative to soda and alcohol, but a worse alternative to water. These are things coffee lover's know, but what if you want to make your coffee healthier? Or, less unhealthy? There are a few steps you can take to achieve that.
1. Cut back on the sugar
No surprise, one of the worst ways people make their coffee unhealthy is by adding sugar. Sugar is delicious, but everyone knows too much of it isn't healthy. For a lot of coffee lover's, they add a lot of sugar. Even some of the sugar alternatives you might find at the coffee shop aren't that much better than real sugar.
"Some manufacturers call their sweeteners 'natural' even though they're processed or refined. Stevia preparations are one example. And some artificial sweeteners are derived from naturally occurring substances — sucralose comes from sugar." - Mayo Clinic
If you want genuinely natural artificial sweeteners, the FDA approves: nectar and juice directly from fruit, molasses, honey, and maple syrup. If you opt for these alternatives, be sure to seek the organic versions and not the processed products that contain the sugar you're wanting to avoid.
If you don't like any of the alternatives, then just remember that everything is best in moderation. If you have a coffee with sugar in the morning, opt for a healthier snack later instead of one pack full of sugar. The best time to consume sugar - whether found naturally in fruits or in your coffee - is in the morning, which leads us to our next point.
2. Don't have coffee after 2PM
Coffee is a natural way to get energized. In the middle ages, it was common to have beer and wine for breakfast, but when coffee was introduced to Europe, people began drinking it instead of their morning booze. This led to an increase in productivity, and contributed to the transition from the Dark Ages to the Renaissance. So coffee in the morning is not a bad thing. Having only coffee for breakfast is not the best choice (breakfast should be your biggest meal!), but having coffee after 2PM or later is a bad decision.
Caffeine addiction is a very real issue, but is often glossed over. Drinking coffee (and in general other caffeinated beverages) can lead to caffeine dependency. Being too reliant on coffee and caffeine makes for a bad sleep schedule, and having a healthy sleep schedule is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your body. Study after study has proven that a healthy, consistent sleep schedule does wonders in the long run. Even if you're a student and you want to stay up a few more hours to study for an exam, if you don't get enough sleep then your performance on the exam will most likely be worse than if you get enough sleep. The same goes for people simply going to work. Your performance will always be better if you get better sleep.
During a standard work day, you might begin to feel drowsy around 1PM or 2PM. Instead of coffee, this is actually the best time to snack on something, and it would be good to opt for a snack that could give you energy, such as fruit or an energy bar. If you can't avoid coffee in the afternoon, at the very least abstain from any caffeine after 5PM.
3. Try to drink equal amounts of water
The running joke among millennials is, "When I was a teenager I thought the adult drink was alcohol. Then when I was twenty-one I thought the adult drink was coffee. Now, I realize the adult drink is water." Water is simply the best beverage you can drink. Your body needs water. For every cup of coffee, try to drink the same amount water. If you only have one cup of coffee in the morning, then drink a water bottle the rest of the day. If you have a 16oz. coffee every day, try to drink the same amount of water. If you have coffee consistently throughout the day, for one thing refer to point #2 above, but still try to drink the same amount of water. If you find yourself having to use the restroom more, then maybe it would be good to reduce your coffee intake.
4. Don't have coffee on an empty stomach
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Everyone and their mother has heard this for decades, but it's true. Breakfast is important because you are "breaking the fast" from your sleep. If you've ever wanted to "fast" for a diet, guess what. You already do fast, every night, when you sleep. If you get the standard amount of sleep you're supposed to get, then in the morning your body is ready to eat. Every morning, you should try to get a little bit of everything on your plate. Protein, vegetables, fruits - make an omelette and throw in a bunch of vegetables, and then have a banana on the side or a fruit smoothie. Then have your coffee. Coffee only for breakfast is not a good choice. When you eat in the morning, your metabolism is going to go faster and you are going to burn your food more. Have you ever eaten a good breakfast and found yourself hungrier than normal a few hours later? That's good! If you're somebody who doesn't like eggs or pancakes or breakfast foods, that's fine. Breakfast can be anything. It can be chicken with a salad and an apple. Eating anything in the morning will always be better than eating nothing and just drinking coffee.
5. Add cinnamon to your coffee
Cinnamon pairs well with coffee, and it can have good benefits as well. Cinnamon is high in anti-oxidants, which protect your body from oxidative damage, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, etc. and more. When you're sick, it's common to get tea with honey and cinnamon, so why not put cinnamon in your coffee? If you do opt to put cinnamon in your coffee, be sure to not add too much. A simple teaspoon should do the trick.
6. Try a golden latte
"Golden lattes" are popular across Instagram for how pretty they are, but they're actually quite healthy. A golden latte is a turmeric latte. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory compound, so if you have chronic inflammation then it can be helpful in fighting painful inflammation. Turmeric can also activate your antioxidant enzymes, which helps combat many diseases. So opt for a "aesthetically pleasing" turmeric latte, and then feel free to post it to Instagram to humble brag if you wish.
7. Try a beet latte
Beets and beet powder gained popularity as the organic food movement grew this past decade. It might sounds kind of gross, but the beet flavor in a beet latte isn't that noticeable. Beets are a great source of nutrients and minerals that tend to be minimal in an average diet. They're a great source of fiber and vitamin C, and many athletes like use beet powder in their diets. Beet lattes are similar in turmeric lattes; they started as a quirky trend, but have become popular for their unique taste and health benefits. Also, beet lattes are very Instagram worthy as well, because they end up being a pretty pink color.
8. Add MCT Oil
Medium-Chain Triglyceride oil is better known as MCT oil, and offers many benefits. Adding just a small dose to your coffee can improve your brain and memory function, give you an energy boost, and help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Only a small dose is necessary. Too much can actually have adverse effects, and it's best to consume MCT oil with food. If you refer to point #4, you will see that you shouldn't drink coffee on an empty stomach, so the MCT oil will act better when you drink your oil-infused coffee with food.