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 small amounts of acrylamides or other possibly harmful 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 Canadians… although that mostly has to do with the fact that many Canadians don’t get enough antioxidants from fruits and veggies, so coffee ends up being their biggest source. NOT GOOD.
You should try to diversify your sources of antioxidants from fruits, veggies, spices, herbs, 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 3 most important tricks to maximize the benefits of coffee and minimize the negatives:
- 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 small amount of natural stevia to just lightly sweeten my coffee. I’ve also become a big fan of coconut sugar recently, and this is healthier than plain sugar because it does contain some minerals and other nutrients, and has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar. On the other hand, 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. Since almost every coffee shop only has either sugar or artificial sweeteners as options, I recommend you carry packets of stevia with you when you know you might be getting coffee at a coffee shop on a particular day.
- You also should try to AVOID at all costs any of those terrible artificial creamers (liquid or powder), which are usually made with corn syrup solids and hydrogenated oils (harmful trans fats). In fact, I try to eliminate dairy all together. Contrary to what many of us are taught (by the dairy farmers of course), dairy is not great for you. I’ll write another article on this later.
Instead, I use almond milk or coconut milk in my coffee. I find both taste great, and they are a MUCH healthier alternative to creamer.
The great news is, most coffee shops now carry some alternative to dairy. I will say, though; many people think they are making the healthy choice by going soy. That is not the case…stay away from soy at all costs.
I buy unsweetened cartons of almond milk from Costco, and it tasted great. Or 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, many times I’ll have them try the coconut cream in their coffee and almost everyone always comments how much they love it!
- 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 occasionally 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, so just use a little stevia to sweeten). 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!)
But despite the caffeine content, there is loads of data that show the high antioxidant levels and health benefits to coffee.
Lastly, it’s extremely important to choose organic coffee beans, as conventional coffee is one of the most heavily treated crops with pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides. Remember that one of the many health risks with these chemicals is that some pesticides can act as “xenoestrogens” in your body, disrupting hormone balance for both men and women. Chronic xenoestrogen exposure can also be one cause of “stubborn abdominal fat” in both sexes as well as “man boobs” in men… so choose organic as often as you can with most foods, but especially with coffee!
Enjoy your coffee and these additions that we talked about in this article, knowing that it can actually do your body good in moderation!