Out there in some parts of the wellness world, there is this belief that coffee is bad and unhealthy . While I have a deep admiration for all the morning loving people that don’t need coffee or a special morning drink to start off their day, I must confess that when my alarm goes off, I am a walking zombie. It doesn’t matter how early I go to bed, I can always snooze and sleep some more. The only way for me to get my day started and jolt some life into my body is by drinking a warm, comforting drink. While I love coffee the most, I also enjoy drinking other warm elixirs like black and green tea, matcha, spiced chai, turmeric tea, tulsi (tulasi) tea, chamomile, and ginger lemon tea.

For me drinking a warm drink to start my morning is not about getting a caffeine boost, but it is about connecting to my family food traditions and creating a nurturing morning routine.

There is a lot of misinformation in the wellness world: myths about detoxing and eliminating certain foods and drinks from your diet. I am writing this post to deliver the good news: most likely, you can keep enjoying your beloved coffee! If you are in good health and do not suffer from gastritis, arthritis, GERD, or other inflammatory bowel conditions, coffee can be a healthy drink to enjoy, so long as it’s in moderation. Coffee is rich in phenols (a type of antioxidant), which provide protection against chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases (1,2,3,4) . You can be healthy and happy while loving coffee!

Here are some tips for enjoying coffee mindfully that will allow you to reap health benefits from your cup of joe.  

  1.  Get your coffee at local coffee shops! Thank goodness for the foodies whose dedication and love for coffee has not only preserved coffee culture but made coffee shops a sanctuary for scrumptious taste. Chances are if you are drinking coffee from a massive, multinational corporation, you are not getting the best tasting, highest quality coffee beans.  Small, local coffee shops are more likely to carefully curate the quality, sustainability, sourcing, and freshness of their coffee. Buy local – you’ll be helping your neighborhood thrive and supporting quality over quantity.
  2. Drink coffee mindfully. I recommended that you drink no more than 2-3 cups (8oz each) of caffeinated drinks per day (including coffee) (2,4). Excess caffeine intake can lead to dependence on caffeine, poor calcium absorption, heartburn, and disturbed sleep patterns (2,4) . If you like to start your morning with coffee, go for it! Coffee has antioxidants that are beneficial to your health. Enjoy it, but not in excess.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Drink coffee mindfully. Drink no more than 2-3 cups (8oz each) of caffeinated drinks per day (including coffee) Click To Tweet                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
  3.  Alternate your morning drink. For instance, instead of starting every morning with coffee, you can try adding elixirs or other comforting drinks to your morning routine. Try herbal drinks that do not have caffeine. You may discover that you don’t need caffeine to wake up, but that you simply enjoy a nourishing drink in the morning. This is also a good way to explore your dependence on caffeine. While caffeine is not unhealthy in moderation, you don’t want to become dependent on it. Stayed tuned for foodieland elixirs recipes to add to your morning routine!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The Perfect Cup of Tulsi Digestive Elixir
  4. Make your coffee at home. It’s budget friendly and you can be sure that it is made with care. Invest in a french press, stove-top coffee maker (Moka Pot) or a drip coffee maker, and a coffee grinder. Grinding your coffee beans just before brewing helps keep your coffee beans fresh. But if you don’t have time for grinding your coffee everyday, pre-ground beans are just as antioxidant rich as freshly ground beans. Instant coffee is also rich in antioxidants; in fact, there are studies that show that instant coffee has higher levels of antioxidants than roasted coffee beans (5).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Source: Enjoys Coffee
  5. Frappucinos are not coffee-  a grande Frapuccino with caramel or chocolate syrup is loaded with sugar and other additives and should not be a part of your morning hustle. It’s a decadent dessert that can run up to 400-600 calories and 59-66 grams of sugar- that’s about 15 -17 teaspoons of sugar in one medium size drink! If you must, indulge in a Frappuccino only as a treat once in a blue moon.  Make the conscious decision to enjoy your sweets mindfully in a delicious, portion-controlled dessert. You wouldn’t pour 15 teaspoons of sugar packets into your mouth; so, why would you drink that much in a single Frappuccino? When I choose to enjoy sweets, I go for a fresh-baked donut, instead of sugary drinks!   For a healthy spin on the Frappuccino checkout our foodieland recipe: Cafe Cacao Smoothie-Nourishing Chocolate Milkshake

  1. Skip the vanilla, caramel, mocha latte.  A medium Mocha latte from any of the large coffee chains is about 400 calories and 35 grams of sugar. That’s about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Most syrups used to flavor coffee are high in sugar and add unnecessary calories and artificial flavorings to your coffee. For a healthy spin on flavored coffee, add a teaspoon of 100% cocoa powder (non alkalized), cacao powder, a splash of 100% pure vanilla extract, or a sprinkle of cinnamon. Say no to syrups.                                                                                                                      
  2. Aim for little to no added sugar or other sweeteners in your coffee. Maple syrup and honey are less processed, but they are sweeteners nonetheless. If you enjoy sweetener in your coffee, try reducing the amount. One way to cut some sugar from your coffee is to gradually phase it out. For instance, if you usually put 1 teaspoon of sugar in your coffee, try using ¾ teaspoon for a week. Next week, progress to only adding ½ teaspoon. Continue to reduce the amount of sugar until you get to your goal: maybe ¼ teaspoon, or zero. If you still need a bit of sweetness in your coffee, try a mindful portion of a less processed, more natural sweetener. For instance, ¼ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon of coconut sugar, maple syrup, or honey are okay to have in your coffee in moderation. Stevia is a great alternative sweetener for pre-diabetics, diabetics or for those looking to reduce caloric intake. I do not recommend artificial sweeteners like sweet-and-low, equal, or splenda.  
  3. Adding milk to coffee? While there are studies that suggest that adding cow’s milk to coffee may inhibit antioxidant absorption, the research is inconclusive. Some studies demonstrate that milk proteins bind to antioxidants in coffee, reducing antioxidant bioavailability (1,2). Other studies show that milk proteins have no effect on antioxidant bioavailability (2,5) . What does this mean for you? If you enjoying adding milk to coffee, go for it! What matters the most is the quality of the milk you add to your coffee. I recommend that you use plant-based milk (soy, almond, cashew, hemp, and coconut milk), or organic whole fat cow’s or goat’s milk (skim/low fat for those with high cholesterol) or half-and-half. If you are experiencing bloating, skin breakouts, an upset stomach, or heart conditions, it may be helpful to skip the dairy products you add to your coffee. Avoid using flavored, powdered or liquid coffee creamers: these are usually high in sugar and preservatives, and add zero nutritional value. 

How do you take your coffee…Americano, Black, Cubano, Turkish  Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino?  I love my soy milk cappuccinos!

Share your favorite coffee drinks with the hashtag #aliceinfoodieland #mindfulliving #happyeating

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a part of your foodieland and wellness journey.  As always, I am here for you, and I appreciate your feedback and questions.. I hope that this article sheds some light on all the myths and misconceptions around coffee and its effects on your health. Have more questions about coffee and caffeine? Drop me a question in the comments section.  

Cheers to coffee, mindful living and happy eating!

Alice

References

  1. Dupas, C. J., Marsset-Baglieri, A. C., Ordonaud, C. S., Ducept, F. M. G. and Maillard, M.-N. (2006), Coffee Antioxidant Properties: Effects of Milk Addition and Processing Conditions. Journal of Food Science, 71: S253–S258. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2621.2006.tb15650.x
  2. http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-is-it-about-coffee
  3. Pandey, K. B., & Rizvi, S. I. (2009). Plant polyphenols as dietary antioxidants in      human health and disease. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2(5), 270–278.https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/
  4. Effect of Simultaneous Consumption of Milk and Coffee on Chlorogenic Acids’ Bioavailability in Humans   Giselle S. Duarte and Adriana Farah. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2011 59 (14), 7925-7931. DOI: 10.1021/jf201906p
  5. Marzieh Moeenfard, Lígia Rocha, and Arminda Alves, “Quantification of Caffeoylquinic Acids in Coffee Brews by HPLC-DAD,” Journal of Analytical Methods in Chemistry, vol. 2014, Article ID 965353, 10 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/965353