Yes, the debate around coffee has been going on for years. Is it healthy? Is it dehydrating? Is it energizing? Is it the only way to have a bowel movement in the morning? Is it the lesser of another evil? All of these things might be true. But, not all coffee is created equal so keep reading and you'll soon be brewing the healthiest and most delicious cup of coffee that you can feel great about!
Coffee is American’s #1 source of antioxidants.
Antioxidants are cancer fighting powerhouses that blast out free radicals from the body. Free radicals are what cause inflammation, or ‘oxidization”, which after years can increase your cancer risk. Recently, several studies have linked moderate coffee consumption to a lower risk of colorectal, ovarian, and prostate cancer. So, the more antioxidants you consume, the better protection you will have against that nasty disease.
Coffee also contains other beneficial nutrients such as polyphenols, which can also be found in spinach, tea, and red wine. In your morning cup of joe, you will also benefit from some micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, and niacin. Lots to feel good about! But like I said before, not all coffee is created equal. So what should you look for?
Like most things, fresher is always better and the same goes for coffee beans. Not only for better flavor, but the antioxidant count will be much higher in coffee beans that have been freshly roasted than beans that were roasted a year ago or even just months ago. So when possible, get your beans from a local roaster each week to optimize your coffee's cancer fighting properties!
But let's be real. Polyphenols and anti-oxidants are probably not the main reason you drink coffee every morning. Most Americans are looking for that glorious boost of energy that gets our day started off right! CAFFEINE!! And after a night with one too many glasses of wine, we sure do need any boost we can get!
But caffeine can be detrimental to some. I have to stay away from it because I get migraine headaches from caffeine withdrawal. I also have fibrocystic breasts and caffeine makes that worse. Stress is also something I am learning to manage and coffee certainly doesn't help me in that aspect. When our bodies are stressed, cortisol is produced and when we are stressed chronically, the body’s hormones can become imbalanced. Cue adrenal fatigue. Cue thyroid problems. So, for me, coffee is the catalyst to all of that. After many years of falling in and out of regular coffee consumption I have slowly come to the realization, no matter how much I love the aroma, the taste, the ritual, the CULTure of coffee, it just doesn't serve my body in a positive way (but I'll tell you what does in a minute).
Does this mean decaffeinated coffee is the better choice? Unfortunately, no. Decaf coffee has been put through a process that removes most of the caffeine from the coffee bean. During this process, a chemical called trichloroethylene is used. This chemical is a solvent and is typically used in dry cleaning. Most likely this is not something you want coming into contact with your food. And I think we can all agree most decaf coffee isn't worth drinking anyways, unless you are having a little coffee with your milk and sugar.
So, if caffeine is something you'd like to limit, try a cappuccino or latte instead, preferably with a dairy-free milk (I prefer rice or oat milk). Believe it or not, a shot of espresso contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee yet still has all the beneficial nutrients of coffee discussed above. While visiting Costa Rica, our knowledgeable barista explained this to us...When a shot of espresso is made, it takes only about 20 seconds for the hot water to be pushed through the grinds creating that dark, delicious brew with that velvety, creamy head. However, with traditional drip coffee it takes much longer; the beans are subjected to a longer brew time which means there is more time for caffeine to be released from the grinds. A single shot of espresso typically contains 58 to 76 milligrams of caffeine while a single cup of drip coffee can contain anywhere between 72 and 130 milligrams of caffeine!
Like any drug, caffeine should be used carefully and with caution. Drinking 5+ cups of coffee everyday is not the best idea for several reasons. 1. Dehydration 2. Anxiety 3. Heartburn 4. Added stress (leading to possible hormonal imbalances) 5. Sleep disorders (leading to mood disorders and overeating) The list could go on. BUT - with moderation comes lots of benefits. Choose quality over quantity. One or two really good cups of coffee in the morning, with a balanced diet and proper hydration, will most likely not cause any of those nasty things listed above and will allow you to benefit fully from all the good things coffee can offer. If you're prone to heartburn, try drinking cold-brewed coffee which is much less acidic than regular, hot coffee. And if you're having trouble sleeping, limit your coffee habit to the morning, without letting it sneak into the afternoon or evening. Caffeine takes at least 8 hours to clear you body, so you don't want to drink it too close to bedtime.
Coffee beans are very similar to the produce you buy at the grocery store and should be treated the same way. Buy fresh, buy often, and buy organic. Coffee beans, like other produce, has been treated with the same pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals that was used on your salad. Then, those beans are roasted. Further changing the chemical makeup of those chemicals (probably not a good thing) and then we take the grinds, run hot water through them, and drink the residue. Even if you aren't into organic foods, as a coffee connoisseur, you probably don't want any notes of pesticides in your morning brew. Moral of the story - always buy organic and enjoy a better, healthier cup of coffee.
But if you're like me and coffee just doesn't sit right with you, try a matcha green tea latte instead. As you probably know, green tea is likely the most health supportive drink in the world. Just like coffee, it offers anti-oxidants, polyphenols, and plenty of trace minerals. It also offers a good amount of caffeine, but usually without the jittery, anxious feeling. I can tell my body just prefers green tea, and my tastebuds prefer matcha green tea with almond, coconut, or rice milk. Delicious! Check out our Instagram page for my absolute favorite matcha green tea harvested from leaves in Japan. Follow us @cornucopiabox
To brew the best cup of joe:
- Buy freshly roasted beans daily or weekly
- Buy organic coffee beans
- Try espresso for less caffeine
- Don't drink coffee after 12pm