Many Americans enjoy at least one cup of coffee every morning, if not 2 or 3. It’s the perfect wake up call to tackle the day, and tastes delicious. But when you’re drinking that much of any beverage, you can’t help but wonder what impact if has on your health. If you’re trying to improve your diet, reduce risk of disease, or lose weight, coffee may have some benefits for you. If you’re downing a few cups a day, then it helps to understand the nutritional value of coffee.
Coffee has no macronutrients like carbs, fats or proteins. It has almost no calories, making it inconsequential on your daily calorie intake. But there’s more to nutrition that calories and grams of fat, and coffee actually has quite a few major benefits. Through both known nutrients and long-term tests, it’s been found that coffee is a good source of antioxidants and can reduce your risk for disease.
Coffee Contains Antioxidants
Antioxidants are a type of nutrient that include vitamins C and E or minerals like zinc or potassium. They work by preventing or slowing down cell damage, which is a key part of aging, disease, and other parts of your health. In fact, studies have shown that having 3-5 cups of coffee per day can get you 60 percent of your daily antioxidants. So by pounding cup after cup, you may be preventing cell degeneration.
We all drink coffee to get that rush of energy. When you don’t feel that midday slump, you’re more likely to exercise, and may even feel more motivated to eat well. When you’re tired, you can get those cravings for greasy, salty, or sugary foods, so by kicking the fatigue, you can kick your cravings. If you’re tired, you may skip that mid-morning run, or dodge the gym after work. While this isn’t a direct benefit from coffee, it’s still an important part of incorporating coffee into a healthy diet.
Reduced Risk of Disease
Coffee has traditionally been seen as unhealthy, increasing your overall mortality rate. Many studies showed that heavy coffee drinkers were more likely to suffer from heart disease, cardiovascular issues, and type 2 diabetes. But many of these older studies didn’t factor in other behaviours that were more common in heavy coffee drinkers. Smoking, inactivity, and an unhealthy diet were much more common in people who drink coffee, leading to a new wave of research to factor these behaviors.
The new research shows that coffee actually lowers overall mortality, as well as likelihood for certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and even alzheimer’s. This is with moderate, filtered coffee consumption. If you drink unfiltered coffee like espresso, or have more than 2 cups per day, than you may have mild a increase in cholesterol or likelihood of heart disease. All of these effects, good or bad, are relatively mild, but you should be aware of them as your drink your morning cup of joe.
Is Black Coffee Better For You?
While the most dedicated of coffee fans exclusively drink black coffee, most of us like to add cream, sugar, or other things to enhance the flavor. This can alter the nutrition in your cup of coffee, so if you’re trying to track how your coffee habit affects your health, you’ll want to pay attention to the nutritional value of what’s in your coffee. Then, you can make adjustments and improvements accordingly. If you’re a heavy coffee cream user, you should take a look at our article on how to choose healthy coffee creamers. It’s worth the read!
If you’re a coffee purist who scoffs at the idea of tainting your favorite brew with cream or sugar, you’re having the healthiest option. While some people may have a caffeine sensitivity, or drink more than a healthy amount, coffee itself is a great addition to a healthy diet. The antioxidants, disease reduction, and burst of energy make black coffee the healthiest way to start your morning routine. Plus, it tastes great on its own and gives you that caffeine rush.
Most people add milk or cream to their coffee. Depending on what you put in your coffee, your cup can range from a hearty part of your day to downright bad for your health. Nonfat milk only has about 80 calories per cup, with very little fat, and some sugar. On the other end of the spectrum, heavy whipping cream can have 800 calories per cup, with over 50 grams of fat. If you’re concerned with the nutritional content of your coffee, make sure to pick a cream that falls in your nutrition comfort zone.
You can also reach for non-dairy milks to minimize your fat or sugar intake. Unsweetened almond milk has just 40 calories per cup, and is mostly water. You won’t have to worry about getting too much fat or sugar, unless you get sweetened non-dairy milk. Plus, it’s vegan friendly, letting people with any diet enjoy the rich flavor of coffee.
Sugar has almost no nutritional value, so it’s generally only used for flavor. Unless you add less than a teaspoon or so of sugar, you’ll want to avoid it completely if you’re trying to maximize your coffee’s nutritional value. Even though your favorite drinks at Starbucks come packed with delicious sweeteners, you’ll have to make them an occasional treat if you want to maintain a healthy diet. You can also use artificial sweeteners to get that same flavor, if you’re comfortable with chemical products. If not, you should read about healthy ways to sweeten your coffee.
You can also try to cut the sugar by replacing it with other flavors that pair with coffee. Cinnamon, baking spices, cocoa powder, or other aromatics can make your cup taste better without adding in all the extra calories, fat, and sugar. You can use flavor extracts like vanilla or hazelnut to get a delicious cup, or you can make your own low-sugar syrups. Experiment to find healthy ways to sweeten your coffee.
Can Coffee Help You Lose Weight
Coffee has even been associated with weight loss. This is because of caffeine, which has a number of effects on your body. While it isn’t a replacement for a healthy diet and regular exercise, black coffee can be a great addition you your day if you aren’t already downing 3 or 4 cups every morning. Or if you’re already drinking coffee and wondering how to lose weight, don’t worry about the morning brew, and incorporate it into a healthy weight loss plan.
Caffeine increases metabolism
You metabolic rate is a huge factor in weight loss. Studies have shown that caffeine will increase your overall metabolism. Because it’s a stimulant, caffeine will increase the rate at which your body burns calories. Combine it with a healthy eating schedule and the right foods, and caffeine can help you kick your weightloss routine into overdrive. There’s a reason that nearly every weight loss supplement on the market contains caffeine.
Caffeine improves exercise benefits
In addition to giving you the energy to actually work out or run, caffeine can actually improve the benefits from exercise. Studies have shown that people who train with caffeine put on muscle mass faster than those who ditch the stimulant. It raises your core body temperature and reduces feelings of fatigue, resilting in you pushing harder and building more muscle. Since increasing your muscle mass will help you lose weight, incorporating caffeine into an exercise plan will also help you with weight loss.
Coffee is an appetite suppressant
Aside from the fact that drinking any beverage will fill you up, coffee and caffeine act as an appetite suppressant. Caffeine is a known appetite suppressant, but recent studies have shown that even decaf coffee beans can act as an appetite suppressant. This is in part due to the chemicals in the content, as well as how acidic your coffee is. Consider topping off a smaller meal with a cup of joe to make sure you feel full without putting more on your plate.
You can put healthy things in your coffee
Coffee can also be a vehicle for nutrition. Adding in protein powder and vitamin supplements will allow you to directly boost your nutrition intake. Or you can substitute some of your calories with low-calorie alternatives. Having an almond milk or nonfat latte can be a great way to fill yourself up and keep away from snacking throughout the day. If you’re already downing a few cups per day, take advantage of the opportunity to boost your nutrition and lower your calorie consumption.
Improving Your Diet With Coffee
The benefits of drinking coffee don’t stop with waking up and pushing through the day. While coffee is delicious, your favorite morning beverage can have a host of health benefits. Since it has no calories, no fats, and no sugars, there’s almost no reason to kick coffee out of your regular diet. It has antioxidants and is associated with lower rates of disease. It can boost your metabolism and your workout routine while also suppressing your appetite. By consuming this delicious drink in moderation, you’ll be able to improve your nutrition with coffee.