While some of us love the full-bodied, rich bitterness of a cup of black coffee, most people like to dress up their favorite brew. Whether it’s a splash of heavy cream or a few cubes of sugar, there’s no denying that coffee works taste great with something added to it. But when you’re downing 3 or 4 cups a day, the added sweets pile up. For health-conscious coffee drinkers, you’ll want to learn some of the healthy ways to sweeten your coffee.
At home, most people sweeten their coffee with a pre-sweetened coffee creamer. When you go out to your local coffee shop, you’re probably getting some sort of industrialized syrup. Places like Starbucks pack as much sugar as they can into each cup, while local coffee houses put in a pretty hefty load of syrup.
Some more traditional coffee shops only offer sugar cubes, and some places don’t have any sweetener at all. At home, cane sugar and sweetened non-dairy drinks are also pretty commonplace. You can really sweeten coffee with anything. It’s such a versatile beverage that it can compliment a variety of flavor profiles. But lately, people have been coming up with creative solutions to avoid sugar and syrup completely.
Why Ditch The Sugar
Sugar is associated with a host of health problems. From increased likelihood of diabetes and obesity to sugar crashes and cravings, most nutritionists and health experts recommend cutting out the sugar. It’s perfectly fine to add a small scoop of sugar to your coffee every morning, but having several sugar-packed cups of joe every day is going to lead to some bad effects down the line.
While too much sugar is unhealthy in itself, more industrial sweeteners are often packed with chemicals. In order to get more sucralose to dissolve, to preserve the sweetener, and to make it have that syrupy consistency, they have to use additives. If you ever look at the ingredients list on a bottle of vanilla syrup, you won’t be able to pronounce half of the items. While these chemicals are FDA approved, it’s worth understanding what you’re putting into your coffee.
What Is The Healthiest Way To Sweeten Your Coffee
If you can’t resist the perfect mix of a toasty dark roast with caramel sauce, try switching to a healthier alternative. When trying to improve the nutritional value of your coffee, you have a few things to consider. The amount of sweetener you use has a huge impact on your coffee’s health impact. Some people want to avoid artificial sweeteners. Others are content with flavoring their coffee without actually sweetening it. Keep those things in mind as we discuss some of the options for enhancing your next pick-me-up.
Natural sweeteners typically contain sucrose. That’s the thing we see as sugar, and it’s what has calories in sweeteners. There are, however, natural sweeteners without any calories, so depending on what you want for flavor and nutrition, these natural sweeteners are great options for coffee.
Whether it’s white, brown, raw, or powdered, most coffee drinkers have used cane sugar to sweeten their beverage. If you want to incorporate this sweetener into your diet without having an impact on your nutrition, you need to practice moderation. Have a teaspoon or less in a single cup of coffee. This way, you can get that classic sweet coffee flavor without taking in too much sugar.
Maple syrup is an incredibly popular sweetener with people on a diet. This syrup has a particularly sweet flavor, but has much less sugar than other syrups. You’ll be able to get a rich, full sweetness without having to put too much syrup in your coffee. It’s a diet friendly option that can really brighten your coffee. Just make sure not to go overboard, since it’s still just sucrose.
While most people associate honey with tea, it goes perfectly with your cup of joe. It actually has more sugar in it than maple syrup, but it’s much less than the supersaturated industrial-grade sweeteners that many coffee stores use. Plus, it’s completely natural, with no chemical additives used. And the golden flavor of the honey is an excellent addition to a bright light roast.
Dates are an increasingly popular sweetener. They’re paleo and vegan friendly, and they have a rich syruppy flavor. You can either mix them directly into your cup of joe or make a paste or sauce out of them. They’re extremely sticky, so you’re best off making the sauce by boiling some water and incorporating the dates. Of course, you may have to wait for them to be in season.
Stevia gained popularity in the 2000s as a miracle sweetener. Its flavor is relatively close to cane sugar, but it has zero calories. Our body doesn’t break Stevia down, meaning we get the flavor without the calories. It’s a completely natural sweetener, and it pretty potent, so if you enjoy the flavor, sweeten your coffee with Stevia.
Xylitol is a naturally occuring sugar alcohol that also has zero calories. It’s just as sweet as sucrose, but is not known to have and adverse health effects with regular consumption. It’s only ever used in a granular form, since it doesn’t work the same way as sugar chemically. Sy while you can’t buy a zero-sugar creamer using xylitol, you can add the powder straight to your coffee.
Sometimes the healthiest way to sweeten your coffee is to not sweeten it at all. By taking flavorful, aromatic substances, you can satisfy your sweet tooth without actually caving in. Coffee is a flexible drink, complimenting an array of different flavors, so try these unsweetened options to enhance your next cup.
Cinnamon is associated with sweets, pastries, desserts, you name it. But this bright spice isn’t actually sweet. It has zero sugar and zero calorie, so mixing it with coffee will give you a healthy drink that gives you whiffs of the pastries and desserts you love. You can either dust your coffee with it, or mix in a teaspoon with every quarter-cup of coffee grounds before brewing. You’ll be enjoying the bold coffee flavor with the aromatic spice of cinnamon, sugar free.
Mochas are an incredibly popular drink, but you can actually just use unsweetened cocoa powder instead. The sharp bitterness of pure cocoa compliments the toasted nuttiness of a dark roast to give you the perfect sugar free cup. You can make your bold cup of joe even richer by adding in unsweetened chocolate. Either mix it into some hot milk or make an unsweetened chocolate sauce by boiling the powder in some water.
This may sound crazy, but butter coffee has become a trend in recent years. The fullness of the butter adds body and volume to the coffee. While you may be skeptical about the health benefits of adding fattening butter to your coffee, it can actually have a more positive impact than sugar. Especially if you already have too much sugar in your diet, swapping the sugar for fat can be a healthy alternative.
Coconut oil or cream
Like with butter, adding in a fat to replace your sugar can be a healthier way to sweeten your coffee. Coconut oil or coconut cream are natural, plant-based ways to wean yourself off of sugary coffee. Plus the light flavor of coconut can be a subtle reminder of the sweetness you’re giving up. It’s also vegan friendly, so if that’s part of your diet, coconut products are a great solution.
Many people stay clear of artificial sweeteners. Chemical additives throw many people for a loop, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have fewer known health effects than standard syrups and sauces. These sweeteners taste the closest to regular sugar, and they’re easy to find, making them a potential alternative.
Splenda is the go-to powdered artificial sweetener. Nearly every coffee store will have some packets of Splenda. It’s made of sucralose, which is a zero-calorie chemical similar in sweetness to sucrose. But again, you have to weigh the costs and benefits of chemical additives, even it if is zero calorie.
Aspartame is the most common chemical sweetener there is. It’s used in everything from diet sodas to zero-sugar syrups. It’s another zero-calorie sweetener, but it’s actually hundreds of times sweeter than sucrose, meaning that anything made with aspartame has very little added. If you’re comfortable with chemical sweeteners, this is another option to cut the sugar out of your coffee.
Getting The Healthiest Cup of Coffee
When you have a cup of coffee every day, it’s good to consider the impact it has on your health. Coffee itself has been found to actually have certain benefits, while sugar can be fine for you in moderation. By cutting back the number of sugary cups you have per day, substituting for better sweeteners, or by skipping the sweetener entirely, you can make sure that your caffeine fix comes with no strings attached.