8 Ways to Make Your Coffee Habit Healthy
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world. Many health professionals believe it’s also one of the healthiest.
For some people, it’s the single largest source of antioxidants in the diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined (1, 2).
Here are a few tips to turn your coffee from healthy to super healthy.
1. NO CAFFEINE AFTER 2 P.M.
Coffee is one of the richest natural sources of caffeine in the diet.
Caffeine is a stimulant, which is one of the main reasons coffee is so popular. It gives you a jolt of energy and helps you stay awake when you feel tired (3).
But if you drink coffee late in the day, it can interfere with your sleep. Poor sleep is associated with all sorts of health problems (4, 5).
For this reason, it’s important not to drink coffee late in the day. If you must, choose decaf or opt for a cup of tea instead, which contains much less caffeine than coffee (6).
Abstaining from coffee after 2–3 p.m. is a good guideline. That said, not everyone is equally sensitive to caffeine, and some people may sleep just fine even if they had coffee late in the day.
Nevertheless, if you feel like you could improve your sleep, avoiding coffee late in the day could be an effective strategy.
There are many other ways you can improve your sleep quality. Read this article for more science-based tips.
2. DO NOT LOAD YOUR COFFEE WITH SUGAR
Although coffee is healthy in itself, you can easily turn it into something harmful.
The best way to do that is to put a whole bunch of sugar in it. Added sugar is arguably one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet.
Sugar, mainly due to its high amount of fructose, is linked to all sorts of serious diseases like obesity and diabetes (7).
If you can’t imagine living your life without a sweetener in your coffee, use a natural sweetener like stevia.
3. CHOOSE A QUALITY BRAND, PREFERABLY ORGANIC
The quality of coffee can vary greatly depending on the processing method and how the coffee beans were grown.
Coffee beans tend to be sprayed with synthetic pesticides and other chemicals that were never intended for human consumption (8).
However, the health effects of pesticides in food are controversial. There is currently limited evidence that they cause harm when found at low levels in produce.
Nevertheless, if you are worried about the pesticide content of your coffee, consider buying organic coffee beans. They should contain much lower amounts of synthetic pesticides.
4. AVOID DRINKING TOO MUCH
While a moderate intake of coffee is healthy, drinking too much may reduce its overall benefits.
Excessive caffeine intake may have various adverse side effects, although people’s sensitivity varies (5).
In general, Health Canada recommends not exceeding 1.1 mg per pound (2.5 mg per kg) of body weight per day (9).
Given that an average cup of coffee may contain around 95 mg of caffeine, this corresponds to about two cups of coffee per day for someone weighing 176 pounds (80 kg) (10).
However, much higher amounts of caffeine (400–600 mg) per day (about 4–6 cups) are not associated with any adverse side effects in most people (11).
Read this article for detailed information about the amount of caffeine found in different coffee drinks.
Drinking coffee is all about balancing its risks and benefits. Listen to your body and consume no more than you can comfortably tolerate.
5. ADD SOME CINNAMON TO YOUR COFFEE
Cinnamon is a tasty herb that mixes particularly well with the flavor of coffee.
Studies show that cinnamon can lower blood glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides in diabetics (12).
If you need some flavor, try adding a dash of cinnamon. It’s surprisingly good.
Just make sure to not put too much of it in your cup. While small amounts of cinnamon are healthy, too much may cause some adverse side effects.
6. AVOID LOW-FAT AND ARTIFICIAL CREAMERS
Commercial low-fat and artificial creamers tend to be highly processed and may contain questionable ingredients.
However, there is not much research on the health effects of non-dairy coffee creamers. Their contents vary by brand, and some may be healthier than others.
Nevertheless, whole, natural foods are generally a better choice.
Instead of a non-dairy creamer, consider adding some full-fat cream to your coffee, preferably from grass-fed cows.
Studies show that milk products contain some important nutrients. For example, dairy is an excellent calcium source and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures (13).
Additionally, grass-fed cow’s milk contains some vitamin K, which is also linked to improved bone health (14).
7. ADD SOME COCOA TO YOUR COFFEE
Cocoa is loaded with antioxidants and associated with all sorts of health benefits, including a reduced risk of heart disease (15, 16).
Try adding a dash of cocoa powder to your coffee for some added flavor.
Caffè mocha, a chocolate-flavored version of caffè latte, is served in many coffeehouses. However, caffè mocha is usually sugar-sweetened.
You can easily make your own at home and skip the added sugar.
8. BREW YOUR COFFEE USING A PAPER FILTER
Brewed coffee contains cafestol, a diterpene that can raise cholesterol levels in the blood (17, 18).
However, reducing its levels is simple. Just use a paper filter.
Brewing coffee with a paper filter effectively lowers the amounts of cafestol but lets the caffeine and beneficial antioxidants pass through (19).
However, cafestol is not all bad. Recent studies in mice suggest it has anti-diabetic effects (20).
THE BOTTOM LINE
Coffee is a popular beverage known for its stimulant effects.
A high intake of coffee is linked to various health benefits. However, there are several ways you can improve these benefits even further.
Most importantly, avoid loading your coffee with added sugar. Instead, you can flavor your coffee by adding a dash of cinnamon or cocoa.
Also, consider abstaining from coffee in the late afternoon and evening, as it may impair the quality of your sleep.
By following the tips above, you can make your cup of coffee even healthier.