As we move into 2017 thinking about new healthy habits we want to adopt, why not start with a habit most of us already have – our morning coffee. Coffee sometimes gets a bad rap, but there’s nothing wrong with including coffee as part of your morning routine.
Plenty of articles have been published about the health benefits of coffee, which are typically attributed to the antioxidants in the beans. But there are also numerous ingredients that can be added to the beverage, as well as different ways of preparing a cup of joe, that can boost the nutritional value of your coffee.
Let’s look at some of the ways to make your next cup of coffee more nutritious.
Use paper filters. Along with the antioxidants and caffeine present in coffee, there are also harmful substances called diterpenes, which consist of cafestol and kahweol. High amounts of diterpenes can trigger a rise in your total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. To avoid this situation, use paper filters (which capture these compounds) when brewing coffee.
Add cocoa. A teaspoon or two of organic unsweetened cocoa stirred into coffee not only helps satisfy a chocolate craving, it also enhances the antioxidant value of the brew. Among the health benefits attributed to cocoa are a reduced risk of heart disease, better control of diabetes, and a good source of magnesium.
Choose cinnamon. This tasty herb can help lower cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. A UK systemic review and meta-analysis of six clinical trials, for example, reported that cinnamon helped with glycemic control. So consider adding a dash or two or cinnamon to coffee for a delightful taste and nutritional boost.
Select natural sweetness. White table sugar, brown sugar, and artificial sweeteners should never make contact with coffee! For those who must have sweetened coffee, the natural sweeteners stevia (an herb) and xylitol, a sugar alcohol that is found in minute levels in fruits and vegetables and therefore considered to be natural. However, neither of these natural sweeteners add any nutritional value to coffee. Using them, however, doesn’t make a cup of joe less nutritious.
Read about 7 ways artificial sweeteners can ruin you life
Cut the creamer. Using coffee creamer adds unhealthy, non-nutritional ingredients to the beverage, so eliminating the creamer can actually improve that next cup. So-called coffee or nondairy creamers typically contain sugar, corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, sodium, vegetable oils, and sodium aluminosilicate (which is flammable). Are these the ingredients we want in our body?
Go organic. Coffee beans are among the most heavily sprayed crops in the world. Approximately 250 pounds of pesticides per acre are applied to these plants. To avoid exposure to chemical residues, choose organically grown coffee.
Skip the syrups. The syrups that can be added to coffee look and sound tempting and range from apple to raspberry and almond to watermelon. Yet these syrups typically contain sugar (or artificial sweeteners), preservatives, and other additives. Even the organic varieties don’t contribute any nutritional value to your beverage. It’s best to skip these products.
Add MCT oil. Medium-chain triglycerides are a healthy form of saturated fatty acid with many health benefits, ranging from improvement in heart health to cognitive function and better weight management. The best source of MCT oil is coconut oil, although there are small amounts in butter and cheese made from grass-fed cows, palm oil, and whole milk. Adding a dash of coconut oil to coffee could provide a brain and heart boost!
Try butter coffee. There are pros and cons to adding butter to coffee. In moderation (1 Tbs equals 100 calories) and if the butter is unsalted and from grass-fed cows, then you are getting a small amount of MCT (see “MCT oil”). If MCT oil is added along with the butter, then the result is a much greater amount of healthy MCT, but also many more calories.
Akilen R et al. Cinnamon in glycaemic control: systematic review and meta analysis. Clinical Nutrition 2012 Oct; 31(5): 609-15
Authority Nutrition. 3 reasons why bulletproof coffee is a bad idea
Dr. Axe. 6 health benefits of MCT oil
Bak AAA, Grobbee DE. The effect of serum cholesterol levels of coffee brewed by filtering or boiling. New England Journal of Medicine 1989; 32:1432-37
Coffee and health. Compounds in coffee
Ding EL et al. Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Nutrition & Metabolism 2006 Jan 3; 3:2
Healthy Organic Woman. Are you sipping pesticide residues in your morning coffee?