From how much to where it’s sourced, here are a few things to consider the next time you’re deciding on your cup of joe.
BY: DIANNA SINNI DILLON, RDN, LD
Coffee is one of those ingredients that is constantly in chaos. So let’s talk about it. One day we’re encouraged to drink it and the next we’re told to avoid it like the plague. Confusing, right?
Let’s lay it out: coffee itself isn’t bad for you.
In fact, coffee is full of antioxidants and has even been studied for its effects on reducing risks associated with certain chronic diseases. Good quality coffee in moderation can fit into a healthy diet.
Here’s a few quick “coffee guidelines” to keep in mind the next time you’re at your favorite java spot.
1. Two to three 8-ounce cups are enough.
After that third cup, you probably begin to wonder if you should move your office into the bathroom. Coffee is a natural diuretic and digestive stimulant, so it can be rough on your system. I’m sure you’ve felt those awful tummy rumbles (the worst!) when you’ve had coffee on an empty stomach. Be sure to drink water in-between to stay hydrated, and eat a light snack or meal around the same time you’re drinking some java.
2. Timing matters.
Some people who are extremely sensitive to caffeine find they can’t sleep at night if they’ve had a cup too late in the day. Generally speaking, the caffeine effects of coffee last around five or six hours, so think about what time you go to bed and count back to figure out when you should have your last cup. If you’re just in the spirit of coffee just for the taste, an 8-ounce cup of decaf has only four milligrams of caffeine vs. a whopping 130 milligrams in a cup of regular java.
3. Be mindful of what else you’re drinking.
You walk up to any coffee counter and there’s a million and one ways to have it, but what you add into your coffee can really add up throughout the day. Enjoy your sugary, sweetened, whipped and heavy cream laden coffee drinks in moderation. Try a simple splash of unsweetened almond milk and try stirring in nutmeg or cinnamon for a flavor boost without the added sugars.
4. Choose fair-trade and organic varieties.
What we don’t usually think about when we’re downing our iced coffee is how our coffee was produced or even how the workers who harvested our coffee beans were treated. Sadly, coffee farmers and migrant workers are some of the most exploited workers in the world: poor living conditions, unsafe work environments, child labor, and unfair wages just barely cover the extent of this issue. And much of today’s conventional coffee beans are sprayed with pesticides or soaked in harmful toxic chemicals. Spend your dollars wisely on coffee beans that have provided fair wages to farmers and have been grown with sustainable practices.
While there is still controversy on the effectiveness of fair-trade, organic, and other related certifications, they ARE a step in the right direction. There is still a lot that needs to change in order to improve the lives of our world’s farmers and migrant workers and to reduce our detrimental footprint on this earth.
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Dianna Sinni Dillon, RDN, LD is a Registered Dietitian based in Kansas City, MO with a passion for all things whole grain, green, and homegrown. She focuses on empowering and inspiring others to take charge of their wellness through simple plant-based recipes and science-powered advice.