There is SO MUCH conflicting “evidence” out there that tugs one way or the other about the health benefits and dangers of coffee consumption. You could literally write an article completely demonizing coffee consumption with plenty of scientific studies and evidence to back you up. On the flip side you could also write an article praising all of the health benefits of coffee and how it is the drink of the Gods and, again, back that sucker up with all kinds of scientific study and evidence.
I believe the truth of this issue most likely lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, caffine is bad for you especially when consumed in massive amounts (which is the core argument for the “coffee is bad” team). Raw coffee beans themselves, however, have been shown to have some pretty significant health benefits, namely their super high antioxidant properties (which can help prevent the breakdown of cells and tissues around the body, and stimulate the body’s natural regrowth). So, score one for the “coffee is good” team.
So, how do we balance the scale here, because let’s face it, some of us have no intentions of giving up that morning cup of heavenly goodness! How do we have our cake and eat it too, so to speak? Here are a few tips to keeping our coffee consumption closer to the “healthier” side of the scales.
Choose Organic. When scanning the hundreds of coffee options in the grocery isle, it is a good idea to first narrow the choices down to the organic beans. Buying organic is just a good idea with any foods. Organic growers offer the cleanest and purest products that are free from “chemical assistance” and harmful synthetic compounds. Many growers use artificial pesticides and fertilizers in the soil. Naturally, these things are absorbed into the beans as they grow. Consuming these dangerous by products is easily avoidable by choosing organic. Organic coffee, often also means shade grown coffee beans, which means healthier and more nutrient rich soil. Be sure to keep an eye out for the USDA Organic seal.
Understandable, price becomes an issue with this point. Organic coffee tends to carry a heftier price tag than non organic. There are a few quality organic brands out there that can be bought at very reasonable prices.
Be Mindful Of What You Add To Your Cup. If you are not one of those who enjoys their coffee black, you probably reach for the cream and sugar pot immediately after pouring that morning cup of Joe. I get it, I am not a black coffee drinker either. Instead of the cream and sugar, there are a few really great alternative options to make your coffee fix a bit sweeter while also adding quite a kick of additional health benefits- including burning excess weight! Seriously! The top three sweet additions for fat burning are;
RAW Organic Coconut Oil. The medium chain triglycerides in coconut oil have been shown to increase 24 hour energy expenditure by as much as 5%, potentially leading to significant weight loss over the long term. “It is also easy to digest and it helps in healthy functioning of the thyroid and endocrine system. Further, it increases the body’s metabolic rate by removing stress on the pancreas, thereby burning more energy and helping obese and overweight people lose the weight.(1) Coconut oil can also boost thyroid function helping to increase metabolism, energy and endurance. It increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. In addition to helping with weight management, coconut oil has a seriously long list of other incredible health benefits including booting immunity and helping to prevent heart disease. Check out these articles for more information on the Health Benefits of Coconut Oil and Why I Love Coconut Oil. You can also learn more about Oil Pulling, another terrific way to use Coconut oil for your health! ( I REALLY love Coconut Oil.)
Cinnamon. The potential health benefits of this spice are pretty incredible. According to Shane Ellison, MS, a medicinal chemist and founder of the Sugar Detox (2), cinnamon helps to repair the insulin receptors that degrade with age so they are once again responsive to insulin, which over time normalizes sugar levels in those suffering from type two diabetes and insulin resistance due to an increase in insulin sensitivity. Cinnamon also raises HDL (the “good”) cholesterol, which helps remove LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol from the body. Regular intake of cinnamon may also help to balance or even negate the effects of high-fat meals by slowing the increase in blood sugar after a meal. These are just to name a couple of the many, many benefits that cinnamon offers.
*It is important to note: there are a couple of options to choose from when purchasing cinnamon. Christina Major, a MS Holistic Nutritionist and Herbalist and the Health Recovery Expert of Crystal Holistic Health (3) explains, “Nearly all the cinnamon in the grocery stores and health food stores is a cousin of true cinnamon,” explains Cinnamomum cassia, or Chinese cinnamon, has a very similar flavor and color, but it does not have the same health benefits. Only Cinnamomum verum provides the health benefits, and this is an expensive spice that is often illicitly substituted with Cinnamomum cassia.” When you are looking over the shelves in the grocery store spice isle, you’ll likely see Cinnamomum cassia sold as Chinese or Cassia cinnamon, whereas Cinnamomum verum will be sold as Ceylon cinnamon.It is best to reach for the latter.
RAW Honey. Honey is a natural sweetener that is packed with some awesome stuff like vitamin B6, folate, vitamin C, niacin and riboflavin. It also contains iron, calcium, sodium, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. Imagine getting the benefit off all of this while cutting out all of the junk that comes with processed sweeteners!
Learn more about the health benefits of these great options as well as several more that will add a healthy kick to your morning coffee.
One to Two Cups. Although this is a highly debated subject, it seems to be pretty well agreed upon by both sides that maintaining a one to two cup rule per day seems to appease both camps (except the extremists, of course). Personally, as I was researching for this article, I was definitely gunning for some breakthrough, irrefutable evidence that advocated strapping on a camelback full of coffee for the day- unfortunately that study has yet to be published so two cups it is… sigh.
Go for the Whole Beans. If you can get your hands on a coffee grinder, grabbing the Whole bean option can be the better choice for one very good reason, freshness. Once it has been roasted and ground, coffee tends to go stale pretty fast as the bean oil (where all of the taste lives) begins to evaporate once the coffee is ground. If you have never had freshly ground coffee, you may not know the difference, but grinding the whole beans up just before brewing them will produce a much stronger and more flavorful cup of Joe. (okay, so this one isn’t really a “health” issue, but it is still a good idea…)
Look for the Fair Trade Label. Make your coffee choice a healthier choice for others too. Fair Trade Certified™ products were made with respect to people and planet. Thier rigorous social, environmental and economic standards work to promote safe, healthy working conditions, protect the environment, enable transparency, and empower communities to build strong, thriving businesses. When you choose products with the Fair Trade label, your day-to-day purchases can improve an entire community’s day-to-day lives. Fair trade practices also prohibit child and forced labor which is a huge factor on many coffee farms!
“When we choose to buy Fair Trade, we are casting a vote for the ethical treatments of the laborers around the world who are responsible for our daily coffee fix.” (4)
Check out this awesome article from goodtrade.com that breaks down 14 of the best Fair Trade coffee brands. All but three of them are also organic and many of them are also shade grown.
Here are a few more options for great Fair Trade, Organic brands.
- Crystal Holistic Health