Coffee has long been associated with good feelings, and now with good health. Drinking coffee can help improve your memory, and can also provide health benefits like lowering your risk of heart disease and diabetes. But, if you are adding a lot of extras to your coffee to make it taste better, you may not be getting the good benefits, and may actually be adding harmful ingredients to your morning drink.
Here is a list of the top five things you might be adding to your coffee that could be harmful, and some healthy options to use for substitutes.
1. Non-dairy creamer
This powdered creamer is made from corn syrup solids and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, making it incredibly unhealthy for you, and one of the worst things you could be adding. Corn syrup provides nothing but empty calories and sugars, and the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils add nothing but trans fats, which could clog up your arteries and lead to heart disease or diabetes. If you have to have a non-dairy creamer in your coffee, try using organic coconut milk creamer, which lists organic coconut milk as the first ingredient.
2. Flavour shots
To add the vanilla, hazelnut or other flavours to your coffee, you are adding basically nothing more than pure cane sugar and artificial colours. One ounce of a flavour shot, or the amount in a large coffee, contains about 19 grams of sugar. If you are looking for the added flavour and want to try and avoid all of this excess sugar, try using vanilla, peppermint, or other extracts instead. These are sugar-free and will add the flavour and aroma you are looking for, without causing you harm.
3. Artificial sweeteners
If you are addicted to Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low, or Equal, you are giving your body a surge in blood sugar that will lead to a sugar crash, even though you are not using sugar. This can lead to cravings later in the day, and can also increase your risk of developing diabetes. Artificial sweeteners also disrupt the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, which can contribute to other problems. Try using stevia leaf extract if you want something a little sweet in your coffee.
Although a small amount of regular sugar might not cause you too many problems, if you are drinking several cups of coffee throughout the day, this can add up to a lot of empty calories. Only 2 teaspoons of sugar in 3 cups of coffee adds up to about 48 grams of sugar, which is more than you will find in a can of soda. If you want a similar sweetness, try sprinkling a few dashes of cinnamon in your cup. Cinnamon has a naturally sweet flavour, but it contains no sugar. Cinnamon has also been found to reduce blood sugar spikes and may help protect you from developing diabetes because it helps prevent cravings. Cardamom is another option to try, and gives your coffee a tasty exotic twist.
5. Skim milk
While skim milk is not necessarily considered to be “bad” for you, a growing body of research has shown that using full-fat dairy products may be a healthier way to go. Full-fat dairy products help reduce the amount of carbs that most people reach for, which can increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Instead of using skim milk, opt for the full-fat varieties.
Coffee is still good for you, but you should pay attention to what you are adding to your drink if you want the best benefits!