This is a collaborative post by Ellie Jo about healthy coffee habits.
As it stands, around 64% of Americans admit to drinking at least one cup of coffee daily. Those are higher figures than ever before, and, for the most part, we assume that to be a negative thing.
After all, the majority of us see our need for a mocha or latte fix as a guilty pleasure. We certainly don’t shout loud and proud about the extent of our coffee drinking. In reality, though, reports over recent years have proven that coffee isn’t such a crime, after all. In fact, many modern professionals would go as far as to say that this is one of the healthiest beverages in the world, providing as it does most people’s largest source of antioxidants.
That’s good news, but it doesn’t mean you can get in line at your local coffee shop without at least considering your choices. In truth, drinks served at top coffee chains are famously packed with calorific content that will astound anyone. What’s more, there’s certainly a negative side to coffee if we don’t approach it in the right way.
With that in mind, we’re going to look at a few simple habits you could adopt to ensure you brew yourself a healthier coffee drinking habit moving forward.
# 1 – Tips For Healthy Coffee: Everything In Moderation
As with most things in life, the benefits of coffee only apply in moderation. Ultimately, studies reveal that drinking too much coffee can negate positive aspects and even lead to detrimental side effects, including anxiety, insomnia, and digestive issues. Too much coffee can also wreak havoc on our teeth, with sugar intake causing decay (more on that later). General coffee stains meaning a choice between dental veneers or a smile we can’t be proud of. In short, this isn’t such a positive experience. A nice little hack is to use a straw with your coffee so it goes right past your teeth. You can also swap out dark roast for a light roast.
As a general rule, it’s recommended that we stick to around 1.1 mg of caffeine per pound of body weight each day. In other words, someone weighing 176 pounds should aim to drink no more than two cups of coffee. Then, you’ll be in a prime position to enjoy those benefits without possible associated risks. Consider switching to decaf coffee if caffeine is affecting you more than you like.
#2 – Healthy Coffee: Cut Back On The Sugar
Coffee might come complete with a host of health benefits, but an excessive intake of sugar isn’t quite such a good thing. This is what makes those coffee shop frappuccinos such a health concern, and it’s why you should think twice if you’re used to piling sugar into your cup. Skip the Starbucks coffee drinks.
The simple fact is that the high levels of fructose found in even one or two spoonfuls of sugar can lead to a whole multitude of health concerns, including ever-dreaded diabetes. Not to mention that this also puts your smile at risk with decay and other such unwanted issues.
Luckily, there are ways to get your health back on track without cutting out that coffee-based sweetness altogether. Natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave are particularly coming to the fore for this right now and with good reason. These additions create much the same flavor, but with much lower fructose content so you can start enjoying your coffee again without worry. Some people like stevia, but there are debates over its healthy benefits.
# 3 – Have A Cut-off Point
Caffeine is most people’s favorite thing about coffee. This is why we reach for the cafetiere the moment we wake up, and it’s why our afternoon coffee perks us up to the extent that it does.
That’s all well and good, but caffeine is also responsible for most of our less-than-ideal coffee reactions, including an inability to sleep, which, in itself, can be detrimental. To avoid health issues including high blood pressure, depression, and even heart disease, it’s therefore vital that you incorporate a coffee cut-off point into your day.
When this should be will, of course, depend on your reactions to caffeine. Someone who isn’t overly affected, for instance, may be able to get away with a cup as late as 4-5 pm and still sleep soundly. For most of us, though, cutting coffee as early as 2-3 pm is best for quality sleep without compromise or health risks.
#4 – Replace Your Coffee Creamer and Sugar With Spices
Instead of using fatty sugary coffee creamer, try spices. Any combination of cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa powder, turmeric, or similar spices helps make black coffee taste delicious. Pumpkin spices are popular in the fall. Consider swapping the whole milk with almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk to really cut back on the calories. Skip the whipped cream.
# 5 – Buy Higher Quality Coffee
Though you may think that expensive, organic coffee blends are a waste of time and money, the health experts will tell you otherwise. Organic blends certainly seem better from a health perspective, given that pesticide spraying is a worry when it comes to standard coffee beans. There is, of course, conflicting evidence about just how much damage pesticides can cause. But, given that we’re all agreed they aren’t exactly good for us, organic, high-quality blends that you can trace and drink with ease are always a better option.
# 6 – Brew A Healthier Pot of Coffee
Believe it or not, the way you brew your coffee also has a significant impact on its potential health benefits. While there is plenty of good stuff in a regular cup of coffee, the standard brewing process also adds a few less-than-ideal extras, including cafestol, which famously raises cholesterol.
While it does have certain benefits, including some anti-diabetic properties, cafestol can also undo the antioxidant benefits that make a coffee healthy habit in the first place. What’s more, the extent to which high intake can raise blood pressure is never a positive.
Luckily, brewing with paper filters could be all it takes to overcome this issue. Strange as it may seem, paper filters work to lower/filter those high levels of cafestol, while still letting all the good stuff into your morning brew.
Cut Out Your Coffee Guilt
As you can see from the health benefits discussed, it’s past time you left coffee guilt behind you and started embracing your morning brew for the positive lifestyle it can bring. Ultimately, each of these changes are so small as to be insignificant in the large scheme of coffee drinking. Yet, they could take your daily fix from damaging to dreamy in no time at all, and leave your body floating on cloud nine without having to compromise on the caffeine it loves so much.
…and if you want some unhealthy coffee see our post on What is Bulletproof Coffee Recipes, Tips and Tricks to Spice it Up
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.