For many people, coffee is more than just a wake-up call. It’s a way of life! There’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular beverages in the world, only after water and tea. Coffee is also jam-packed with good-for-you plant chemicals like antioxidants and flavonoids.1
But if you’re all about cream and sugar, you can wave those perks goodbye. When drunk plain, coffee offers zero calories and multiple health benefits. As for a sugary latte with cream, syrup, and whipped cream? Not so much.
Unfortunately, black coffee isn’t for everyone. The bitter taste might be too much for some. Are you nodding in agreement? Instead of using sugar-sweetened creamers, check out this list of – tasty and healthy coffee add-ins.
1. Vanilla Extract
Vanilla extract isn’t just for baked goods. A few drops will instantly transform coffee, especially if you love traditional flavors. It’s a surprising source of antioxidants! Just be sure to use good quality, pure extract for the highest antioxidant content. Cheaper versions might also have artificial dyes and sugar.2
Add 3 to 5 drops to 1 cup of coffee.
2. Cocoa Powder
Are you a fan of mocha drinks? You’re going to love cocoa powder plus coffee. This staple ingredient reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, the major processes behind chronic disease. It even aids memory and focus, while the flavanols improve brain connectivity and neuron growth. With these benefits and caffeine, you’ll have no problem tackling the day ahead.3 4
- Mix 1 teaspoon cocoa powder to 1 cup coffee.
- For a richer flavor, use dark cocoa powder.
3. Cayenne Pepper
If you’re brave enough, add cayenne pepper to coffee. You can be sure this combo will wake you up. Like other peppers, cayenne has capsaicin, the compound that gives it heat. Capsaicin also affects fat in the best way! It turns energy-storing white fat cells into energy-burning brown cells, helping prevent and manage weight gain.5
- Add a dash of powdered cayenne pepper to 1 cup of coffee.
- A little goes a long way, so avoid using too much.
Cardamom will literally spice things up. In the Middle East, it’s a popular add-in amongst coffee drinkers. Aside from containing very little calories, cardamom improves total cholesterol. It lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. This is great news for heart disease, the number one cause of death in the United States.6
Sprinkle 1 or 2 dashes into a freshly brewed cup.
You can’t go wrong with cinnamon, a comforting and classic spice. It’ll instantly turn a plain cup into a seasonal drink. As an added bonus, cinnamon is teeming with antioxidants. A 2005 study ranked it in the top three out of 26 spice extracts. Between the coffee and cinnamon, you’ll be in for a serious antioxidant boost.7
Add a few pinches of powdered cinnamon to 1 cup of joe.
It sounds strange, but ginger is a delicious add-in. The flavor is not far off from gingerbread cookies, making it a perfect holiday drink.Ginger is also a multi-faceted remedy. For centuries, it’s been used to treat nausea, vomiting, migraines and joint inflammation.
Even your immune system will get a boost. You can thank gingerol, the active compound in ginger. It’s the reason why ginger has anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and analgesic compounds.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger into coffee.
- You can also brew coffee grounds with a few slices of ginger root.
7. Maple Syrup
Beyond pancakes and waffles, maple syrup works great in coffee. It’s a natural alternative to refined white sugar. You’ll also get a solid dose of antimicrobial polyphenols. Infection-causing bacteria won’t stand a chance! If you’re taking antibiotics or feeling sick, this will work in your favor.
Use 100% pure maple syrup. Avoid general labels like “pancake syrup”, as they’re often packed with sugar and dyes.8
Drizzle 1 teaspoon of it into your coffee.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match ingredients. Every morning, you can have a new coffee flavor. For example, combine cinnamon and maple syrup for autumn vibes.
|↑1||Healthy Beverage Guidelines. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑2||Shyamala, B. N., M. Madhava Naidu, G. Sulochanamma, and P. Srinivas. “Studies on the antioxidant activities of natural vanilla extract and its constituent compounds through in vitro models.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 55, no. 19 (2007): 7738-7743.|
|↑3||Sokolov, Alexander N., Marina A. Pavlova, Sibylle Klosterhalfen, and Paul Enck. “Chocolate and the brain: neurobiological impact of cocoa flavanols on cognition and behavior.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews 37, no. 10 (2013): 2445-2453.|
|↑4||F Nabavi, Seyed, Antoni Sureda, Maria Daglia, Parizad Rezaei, and Seyed M Nabavi. “Anti-oxidative polyphenolic compounds of cocoa.” Current pharmaceutical biotechnology 16, no. 10 (2015): 891-901.|
|↑5||What’s Next in Diets: Chili Peppers? Biophysical Society.|
|↑6||Azimi, Paria, Reza Ghiasvand, Awat Feizi, Mitra Hariri, and Behnoud Abbasi. “Effects of cinnamon, cardamom, saffron, and ginger consumption on markers of glycemic control, lipid profile, oxidative stress, and inflammation in type 2 diabetes patients.” The review of diabetic studies: RDS 11, no. 3 (2014): 258.|
|↑7||Shan, Bin, Yizhong Z. Cai, Mei Sun, and Harold Corke. “Antioxidant capacity of 26 spice extracts and characterization of their phenolic constituents.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53, no. 20 (2005): 7749-7759.|
|↑8||Maisuria, Vimal B., Zeinab Hosseinidoust, and Nathalie Tufenkji. “Polyphenolic extract from maple syrup potentiates antibiotic susceptibility and reduces biofilm formation of pathogenic bacteria.” Applied and environmental microbiology 81, no. 11 (2015): 3782-3792.|