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Healthy alternatives to coffee and caffeine

June 3, 2021 katiegibbas

Healthy alternatives to coffee and caffeine

June 3, 2021 Katie Gibas

Need to know:

  • Coffee can reduce the risk of several diseases
  • One brewed cup of coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine
  • FDA considers 400 mg of caffeine per day a safe amount for adults

I’m sitting on my front porch drinking a cup of coffee as I write, so needless to say I like my morning brew. But once or twice a year,  I try to check myself on how much caffeine I’m consuming, especially when the coffee doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to.

Like with other foods, it can seem like the benefits and downsides of coffee change often. One day it is good for you, the next, it’s bad.

“In the early 90s, coffee was considered a possible carcinogen, but as more research has been done, we’ve learned that not only is coffee not associated with cancer risk, it actually may help decrease the risk of certain cancers like endometrial or liver cancer,” says Sara Jank, MS, RDN, CDN and clinical nutritionist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. “A large body of research has shown an association between drinking coffee and reduced risk of several chronic diseases including heart disease.”

That’s great news for coffee drinkers. As with anything, there are benefits and drawbacks to your daily cup of joe. If you want to maximize the health benefits from drinking coffee, make sure you’re not loading it up with sugar, syrups, and other toppings that add extra calories. If you’re not to the point where you can drink your coffee black, check out some of these coffee recipes that add flavor in a healthier way.

Jank says one cup of brewed coffee contains about 100 mg of caffeine. While that is a good guide, be careful if you’re ordering from a barista, because the drinks at many of our favorite coffee places have a lot more caffeine than that.For example, the Starbucks nutritional chart for its beverages shows a Venti® Clover® Brewed Coffee – Dark Roast has 470 mg of caffeine! To put that in perspective, the FDA considers 400 mg of caffeine per day a safe amount for healthy adults, but some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others.

If you like coffee but are sensitive to the caffeine in a regular cup of joe, Jank says decaf has similar health benefits. If coffee isn’t your thing and you still want some caffeine, a cup of brewed tea can have anywhere between 30 and 90 mg of caffeine depending on the type of tea. There are plenty of healthy ways to get your caffeine fix without coffee.

Regardless of how you’re consuming caffeine, Jank says, “Jitteriness, trouble sleeping, fast heartbeat, headaches, GI distress and increased anxiety could all be signs that you are consuming too much caffeine.”. If you fall into this group, she recommends keeping your caffeine intake below 200 mg per day.

Whether you’re sensitive or just looking to cut back on caffeine, remember this: “Stopping abruptly could cause unpleasant symptoms such as headaches or nervousness, so consider taking small steps to ease into a new morning routine,” Jank says.

If it’s that warm morning beverage you’re looking for, Jank recommends trying herbal teas, decaf coffee, hot lemon water or brewed cacao drinks.

Our diet can have a big effect on how much energy we have and how alert we feel. Some foods, including many fruits, vegetables and nuts also have natural energy boosting properties.

There are several alternatives to caffeine, and making small lifestyle changes can have a big impact. Jank recommends taking a brisk walk in the morning and afternoon to get you energized. Regular exercise, staying hydrated and getting natural light can all help. For a quick pick-me-up in 10 minutes or less, check out some of these tips.

Katie Gibas

Katie spent 12 years as a journalist, including hosting a monthly national Healthy Living show. You can usually find Katie and her husband traveling, skiing, and scuba diving. Of course, Katie is a huge Bills fan, even naming her dog Chug Flutie.

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