by Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
Author of best-seller: The Truth About Six Pack Abs
Mmm, coffee... almost everybody drinks it... some people have 3-4 cups per day or more.
But most people don't think of it as a "health drink". And it's certainly NOT healthy the way most people make it with loads of added sugar or artificial sweeteners and artificial creamers.
But I'll give you my tips here on how I make a healthier cup of coffee and what to watch out for...
First, you may have seen debate in the past about how coffee has some compounds in it that could have negative health effects such as some tars or other possibly inflammatory compounds in brewed coffee. But, the good news is that coffee has such high concentrations of beneficial antioxidants, phenolic nutrients, chlorogenic acids, and other healthy compounds, that it more than counteracts any bad compounds.
In fact, coffee provides the biggest source of antioxidants for most Americans. Although a lot of that has to do with the fact that many Americans don't get enough antioxidants from fruits and veggies, so coffee ends up being their biggest source. You should try to diversify your sources of antioxidants from fruits, veggies, spices, berries, beans, unsweetened organic cocoa, teas, and yes, even coffee if you like it.
So what's the best way to make a healthy cup of coffee? Well, here's my 4 most important tricks to maximize the benefits of coffee and minimize the negatives:
1. First of all, you need to AVOID adding any refined sugar or harmful artificial sweeteners. What I do instead is use either a very small touch of organic maple syrup or a half packet of natural stevia to just lightly sweeten my coffee. If you like your coffee black with no sweetener at all, that's the healthiest way.
If you're getting your coffee at a coffee shop, make sure to avoid all of those fancy specialty coffees (sweetened flavored lattes, frappuccinos, etc) as they are almost ALWAYS loaded with extra sugars or artificial sweeteners. Some of those fancy coffee drinks at Starbucks or other coffee shops can have 300-400 calories in just one coffee! Definitely not good for your body or your blood sugar or insulin levels.
A latte or cappucino can be okay as long as you make sure to ask for it unsweetened, and then use your own stevia if you need a light sweet taste.
2. You also should try to AVOID at all costs any of those crappy artificial creamers (liquid or powder), which are usually made with corn syrup solids and hydrogenated oils (harmful trans fats). Instead, use a little bit of REAL full-fat cream (organic grass-fed if you can find it, as the CLA in grass-fed cream is very healthy).
Or, better yet, what I've been using for a while now is coconut milk/cream as one of the healthiest creamer alternatives. I get this by buying cans of organic coconut milk, and then after opening the can (shake the can well before opening), I store the coconut milk in the fridge in a container. Note that the cans of coconut milk are much creamier and better as a coffee creamer than those cartons of "coconut milk drink" which are just watered down coconut milk.
The thick creamy coconut milk is the healthiest option for coffee creamer because it's loaded with super healthy saturated fats called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are known to boost your immune system and your metabolism! Plus, coconut milk in coffee is just plain delicious! It's the best healthy creamer option by far.
When people visit my house and we make a pot of coffee, I'll have them try the coconut milk/cream in their coffee and almost everyone always comments how much they love it!
3. If you want to load your coffee up with more healthy antioxidants and good taste, consider trying some added cinnamon to your coffee (cinnamon can help control blood sugar and has many other health benefits). It's also really tasty in coffee!
I also sometimes like to add a teaspoon of organic cocoa powder (non-sweetened) to my coffee to make my own sort of mocha coffee (but without the loads of sugar in a typical mocha you'd get at the coffee shop). The added cocoa powder also gives you great taste and a good dose of extra healthy antioxidants (and cocoa is also known for helping to lower blood pressure!)
I see people that drink 3-4 cups per day that get a massive headache if they don't have their daily coffee due to caffeine withdrawal. Instead try drinking various teas like green, oolong, black, and white teas most other days, which are much lower in caffeine.
4. Drink Coffee with Ganoderma More commonly known as reishi, ganoderma is a hard, bitter mushroom used to promote health and longevity in traditional Chinese medicine. Proponents claim that ganoderma can relieve fatigue, keep cholesterol in check, curb high blood pressure, tame inflammation, build stamina, and support the immune system.
But despite the caffeine content, there is loads of data that show the high antioxidant levels and health benefits to coffee. If you love coffee, feel free to share this article below with your coffee-loving friends and family.