Perk Yourself Up: Maximize The Health Benefits From Your Daily Cup Of Coffee With These Simple Tips
How many times has a freshly brewed cup of coffee saved your sleep-deprived self with that caffeine kick for the hectic day ahead? You’re instantly invigorated the moment the warm, soothing aroma hits your senses and the dark, bold smoothness of coffee slips onto your tongue. But more than just boosting your energy, coffee is also a great source of antioxidants, B vitamins, fiber, zinc, copper and magnesium, among other essential nutrients that help in healthy body function.
While the 3-in-1 coffee packs are quite convenient, according to Michelle Vidal, senior barista of a renowned coffee shop, “You’re missing out on the ‘real’ coffee experience if you’re not brewing the roast yourself.” In addition, she says that instant coffee packs come with additives that load up on calories, minus the energy. So it’s best to brew your own at home. Here are some brewing tips to make your cups better and healthier.
Make your own. Buying coffee at your favorite coffee shop is convenient, but making your own coffee at home prevents you from being tempted by unhealthy add-ons. According to Starbucks.com’s nutrition counter, a Venti White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino Blended Coffee contains around 550 calories and 18 grams of total fat. It’s not bad to have this kind of coffee once in a while (and at a smaller size), but making it an everyday habit will only pile on the pounds.
Go black. When it comes to drinking coffee, skipping sugar and cream may be better for your health. Get your caffeine fix with the fewest calories possible by drinking it black. A 16-ounce cup contains only five calories.
Switch your sugar. If you cannot take black coffee, sweeten your cup with a little honey or brown sugar, instead of refined sugar. Or if you want to go with a zero-calorie sweetener, use Stevia, which is a natural sugar substitute made from the stevia plant. Look for organic stevia, which is free of GMOs, allergens and additives.
Give it more flavor. If you like a little depth, flavor and interesting combinations in your coffee, adding spices will be a great way to make your cups more exciting; plus, you reap added health benefits. Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, unsweetened cocoa powder, and/or cardamom for an interesting brew. Cinnamon helps stabilize blood, improve bad cholesterol and is a great source of iron and vitamins, while nutmeg provides manganese. On the other hand, cardamom and cocoa are great sources of magnesium, iron, and manganese.
Mind the milk. Full cream and cow’s milk are good especially for children, but it is heavy with fat that does not sit well with growing adults. For something lighter, healthier and with less calories, substitute full cream with non-fat milk, low-fat soy, almond milk or rice milk. Try to do away with the whipped creams—they’re just extra calories that you don’t need. For example, a blog post from Starbucks’ official website says that whipped cream adds about 50 to 100 calories and 5 to 11 grams of fat to your drink.
Avoid diterpenes. Home-brewed coffee contains an organic compound called diterpenes, which are known to raise the cholesterol levels in the blood. But diterpenes can be removed with the use of simple paper coffee filter. The filter paper collects the compounds, while allowing the natural beneficial antioxidants and caffeine to pass through.
Choose a method according to the caffeine kick you need:
INSTANT COFFEE is the most convenient and a breeze to prepare. However, you’re not getting much caffeine or real flavor from the freeze- or spray-dried ground coffee. On the up side, since the coffee grounds have been processed thoroughly, there are no diterpenes.
STANDARD DRIP is the method used by your regular, household coffee maker where hot water seeps quickly through finely ground coffee beans. According to Greatist.com, drip brewing gives you the most caffeine from among the popular brew methods. The flavor may be less intense, but the coffee is healthier as it traps diterpenes with the use of coffee filters.
FRENCH PRESS works by placing coarse grounds in the container and letting it seep for a few minutes. Coffee prepared this way boasts of richer and smoother flavors, and has higher levels of caffeine. (You can raise the caffeine levels by using finer grind and letting the grounds seep longer). However, this method does not filter diterpenes.
COLD BREW is similar to the French press, but the only difference is that you seep the grounds in cold water for 12 to 16 hours. The flavor is more “fruity” and smooth, and without the acidic bite that’s present in hot brewed coffees. Enjoy it cold as iced coffee or you can still make it into a hot beverage by mixing it with warm water or milk. When it comes to caffeine levels, you’ll still get that energetic jolt though it contains less caffeine than hot brewed preparations.