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 always carry packets of stevia on me when I know I might be getting coffee at a coffee shop on a particular day.
Similar to adding grass-fed butter, coconut oil is loaded with healthy fats, specifically medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These MCTs have been linked to improved weight loss in multiple scientific studies. When it comes to brain health, coconut oil may also be largely beneficial. Some studies have examined the potential links between reduction in Alzheimer’s disease rates and daily ingestion of coconut oil.
5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain. Serotonin is necessary for normal sleep, bowel function, mood, and energy levels. It is a vicious cycle, as caffeine can disrupt sleep and promote anxiety and depression. We all know someone who tends to be tired, wired and over-caffeinated!
Cardamom is commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine, because it helps neutralize the stimulating effects of caffeine, but that’s not the only reason to add the spice to your java. A two-tablespoon serving has just 36 calories, is loaded with fiber, essential minerals, and cancer-fighting compounds; research published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention found cardamom contains compounds with the potential to kill cancer cells and stunt new cancer cell growth. Cardamom has also been known to improve blood circulation in the body, help control cholesterol, cure dental diseases, and infections like gonorrhea. It’s even been said to cure impotency, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.
Feeling a little slow lately? All it might take to get your body back to working at a normal pace is a little coffee. A 2005 study from the Radiological Society of North America found it doesn’t take much—just a couple cups—to improve your reaction time, making you better at everything from noticing something scary like smoke in your home (and realizing you need to grab the fire extinguisher ASAP) to breaking your car for a stop sign.
Joseph Bennington-Castro is a Hawaii-based contributing writer for Live Science and Space.com. He holds a master's degree in science journalism from New York University, and a bachelor's degree in physics from the University of Hawaii. His work covers all areas of science, from the quirky mating behaviors of different animals, to the drug and alcohol habits of ancient cultures, to new advances in solar cell technology. On a more personal note, Joseph has had a near-obsession with video games for as long as he can remember, and is probably playing a game at this very moment.
This natural energizer is known as a liquid shot of essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Some people don’t mind the taste and others do, but all agree that wheatgrass is one of the most nourishing juices. “Because of its easy digestibility and rapid assimilation, it’s a natural energy supplement, whether alone or added to a protein-type supplement drink,” says Gloria Gilbère, doctor of natural health.
The potential health benefits of drinking coffee are exciting news, but that doesn’t mean more is better. For some people, coffee can cause irritability, nervousness or anxiety in high doses, and it can also impact sleep quality and cause insomnia. In people with hypertension, coffee consumption does transiently raise their blood pressure — although for no more than several hours — but no correlation has been found between coffee drinking and long-term increases in blood pressure or the incidence of cardiovascular disease in patients with pre-existing hypertension.
If you are already a coffee drinker, it should be reassuring that after decades of research, no strong link can be found between coffee intake and cancer and, to the contrary, a number of health benefits seem to accompany coffee consumption. But, I’m not sure the evidence is powerful enough to recommend an increase in your daily habit. One reason is that we don’t know for sure that coffee consumption actually caused the health benefits observed in these studies. Some other, unmeasured factor could be responsible. Another reason is that the overall effect was small. And, it’s worth noting that some people are quite sensitive to the side effects of coffee.
In 2005, Hu's team reviewed nine studies on coffee and type 2 diabetes. Of more than 193,000 people, those who said they drank more than six or seven cups daily were 35% less likely to have type 2 diabetes than people who drank fewer than two cups daily. There was a smaller perk -- a 28% lower risk -- for people who drank 4-6 cups a day. The findings held regardless of sex, weight, or geographic location (U.S. or Europe).
To put this in perspective, the World Health Organization recommends that adults consume 25 grams (or less) of sugar per day. One daily unhealthy choice when it comes to coffee, and you can say hello to 5 or 10 extra pounds in a month or two. To give you another example, a typical Frappuccino can weigh in at 66 grams of sugar – yikes. Drinking coffee black is a simple way to avoid all of these issues, but I will also give you some extra delicious tips to help spice things up.
Alternatively, opt for “milks” and creamers made from almond, coconut, cashew, and other plant sources. They can be much lower in calories than traditional creamers; and they're often produced with all-natural ingredients (read: no high-fructose corn syrup) and provide heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. If you prefer a flavored or sweetened version, check the grams of sugar on the Nutrition Facts panel. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon.
Coconut milk is the perfect add-in if you’re lactose intolerant, cutting out dairy for dietary purposes (i.e. the Paleo diet), or just want a low-calorie milk substitute. Of course coconut milk adds a light coconut flavor to coffee and lightens up your brew, but it’s also closest in texture to whole milk. You can add vanilla extract to coconut milk to create a homemade, lower calorie creamer. Just be careful and use coconut milk sparingly as it still contains a fair amount of fat.
If Starbucks is your favorite coffee house, then you’ve likely seen the cinnamon on the milk counter when you go to top off your brew. Next time, take advantage and give your health a boost. Swinney says that cinnamon can make your beverage even better for you, thanks to its antioxidant properties, not to mention a slew of other benefits. “Cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar in many clinical studies. Adding spices add antioxidants and sweetness without calories, helping to cut back on the sugar you might add to coffee. Cloves have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties,” she explains. Check out 10 weird facts about coffee you never knew.
Need a little boost to get you through your HIIT workout? A 2013 study from PLoS One shows that athletes who consumed coffee an hour before exercise had greater performance than those who drank decaffeinated coffee. Plus, a 2015 study from the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism suggests that people who drink coffee before a workout burn more calories after exercise, also known as EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption). This means that even if your spin class is over, your body will continue to burn more calories. We’ll drink to that! ☕