7 Ways to Upgrade the Health Benefits of a Cup of Coffee

Coffee can be a pick-me-up as well as an excuse to socialize and is a huge part of many people’s everyday lives. But have you ever wondered how you can upgrade the health benefits of that steamy cup of hot brew? Studies link coffee drinking itself with possible health benefits. Research shows coffee drinkers may have a lower risk of liver disease, liver cancer, type 2 diabetes, gallstone, depression, and Parkinson’s disease.

 

No wonder! Coffee contains over 1,000 compounds including mixtures of proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids, some of which have potential health benefits. So, drinking black coffee is a healthy option to sipping sugar-sweetened beverages. Now, let’s discover some ways to make your morning brew even healthier.

 

Add a Pinch of Cinnamon

Cinnamon has been used in traditional Indian herbal medicine for centuries because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties. Research shows cinnamons lower blood sugar levels while reducing insulin resistance–two factors that directly impact the risk of type 2 diabetes. Plus, a pinch of cinnamon adds delightful flavor and reduces the need for sugar. Get cinnamon from your morning cup of coffee, not a cinnamon bun.

 

Add a Pinch of Cocoa to Your Coffee Cup

Add a pinch of cocoa to your steaming morning brew. Cocoa contains flavonols, antioxidants that help protect against cardiovascular disease and lower the risk of blood clotting. Plus, flavonols reduce inflammation, another factor that damages blood vessels and contributes to cardiovascular disease. Cocoa also has modest blood pressure-lowering benefits. And who doesn’t enjoy the combination of coffee and chocolate? Choose unsweetened organic cacao powder for the most benefits.

 

Filter Your Coffee

Filtered coffee is better for your health. You might enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee or French pressed coffee but save it for special occasions. Research shows unfiltered coffee contains compounds that boost blood cholesterol and may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. When you filter coffee, it removes these compounds and gives you a healthier way to enjoy coffee. In fact, a filtered cup of coffee contains 30-fold fewer of these potentially harmful compounds.  

 

Skip the Sugar

Most people have their morning cup of joe with cream and sugar, which adds calories and lowers the amount of antioxidant power in each cup. When you add sugar to a cup of coffee, you get a sharp rise in blood glucose. This negates the health benefits of that aromatic cup of coffee that you enjoy during the day. If your coffee needs a hint of sweetness, use Stevia instead. This herbal sweetener has no calories and doesn’t trigger a rise in blood glucose like sugar does. It’s widely available in many supermarkets.

 

Avoid Artificial Creamers

If a coffee shop asks if you’d like creamer with your coffee, just say no. The problem with creamers is that many are filled with artificial ingredients that can be harmful. These fake creams are made with ingredients like partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain trans fats, and high fructose corn syrup, which adversely affects your metabolism. A better option is to add a little plant-based milk, like almond or coconut milk, to your morning brew. These days, oat milk is also trendy and they even make barista-style almond milk that froths like dairy milk.

 

Avoid Artificial Sweeteners Too

Artificial sweeteners might sound like a sweet deal but there’s evidence they aren’t beneficial for your metabolic health. Studies show that sweeteners in pink, blue, and yellow packs may cause metabolic issues and negatively affect blood sugar control by altering the gut microbiome. Plus, the sweetness of artificial sweeteners does nothing to reduce your desire for sugary foods and beverages. Try slowly decreasing the amount of sweetener you put in your coffee and let your taste buds adapt to less sweet in your life.  When you need sweetener, use a natural option that won’t affect your blood sugar like Stevia.

 

Eat Breakfast Before Drinking Your First Cup of Coffee

Studies show the worst time to drink coffee is first thing in the morning. When you first wake up, your cortisol level is at its peak, and coffee can raise it even higher. Cortisol is a stress hormone with negative effects on blood sugar control, body weight, immunity, bone health, and more. After eating breakfast, cortisol starts to come down, so your best bet is to enjoy that coffee after a healthy breakfast that’s low in sugar and high in protein.

 

The Bottom Line

Enjoy your next cup of coffee and make sure you’re getting the full health benefits out of each cup you drink.

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References:

“Filtered Vs Unfiltered: Which Type Of Coffee Is Better For ….” www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/filtered-vs-unfiltered-which-type-of-coffee-is-better-for-your-health/.

Smith, H., Hengist, A., Thomas, J., Walhin, J., Heath, P., Perkin, O., . . . Betts, J. (2020). Glucose control upon waking is unaffected by hourly sleep fragmentation during the night, but is impaired by morning caffeinated coffee. British Journal of Nutrition, 124(10), 1114-1120. doi:10.1017/S0007114520001865.

Davis PA, Yokoyama W. Cinnamon intake lowers fasting blood glucose: meta-analysis. J Med Food. 2011 Sep;14(9):884-9. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2010.0180. Epub 2011 Apr 11. PMID: 21480806.

Galleano M, Oteiza PI, Fraga CG. Cocoa, chocolate, and cardiovascular disease. J Cardiovasc Pharmacol. 2009 Dec;54(6):483-90. doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181b76787. PMID: 19701098; PMCID: PMC2797556.

Suez J, Korem T, Zilberman-Schapira G, Segal E, Elinav E. Non-caloric artificial sweeteners and the microbiome: findings and challenges. Gut Microbes. 2015;6(2):149-55. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2015.1017700. Epub 2015 Apr 1. PMID: 25831243; PMCID: PMC4615743.

 

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