Energizing, delicious and refreshing…who doesn’t love an iced coffee on a hot summer day? Iced coffee is the perfect drink to jumpstart your morning or for an afternoon “pick me up” on those long, hot days. But you must be mindful that not all iced coffees are created equal!
Although coffee does not contain any calories, and has even been shown to help decrease your risk of developing diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, the way you prepare your iced coffee can greatly impact the nutritional quality of your coffee. And not to mention, those pre-made iced coffees that you can grab quickly at the mart may be loaded with chemical preservatives that can have a negative impact on your health!
Let’s review some of these “unhealthy” iced coffee add-ins and some heathier alternatives:
Let’s start with the most common one. You may want to sweeten up your coffee in the morning to reduce some of that bitterness. But if you are drinking several cups of coffee a day, that sugar can really start to add up! Although a spoon or two of sugar a day won’t really affect your health, too much sugar can lead to an excess calorie intake, and a quick rise and then fall in blood sugar levels leading to mood swings and an inevitable energy crash!
Healthier Alternative: Add a drizzle of honey.
Honey is a natural, unrefined source of sugar, and it contains amino acids and health boosting antioxidants. Due to its sweetness, you may get away with adding just a drizzle to achieve your desired flavor!
Pumped flavor shots
You may love the flavor explosion those pumps of hazelnut or caramel add to your morning cup of Joe, but are you aware of what’s really in those pumps of goodness? Those few pumps of flavor added to your morning coffee can turn a calorie-free beverage into the sugar equivalent of a Coke or Pepsi in a hurry. Just one ounce of caramel or hazelnut flavoring can contain up to 20 grams of liquid sugar! Although some sugar in your diet isn’t harmful, there are some healthier options out there.
Healthier Alternative: Add some spices or extracts
The health benefits of various spices can be profound, and they can help add some interesting flavors to your coffee. Try adding cinnamon (yum, my favorite) or vanilla or nut extracts to help bring out the flavor of your coffee, reduce your sugar intake and boost the nutritional quality of your coffee!
Non-dairy creamers may sound like a “healthy” option, but you may be doing more harm than good by adding this one to your beverage. Non-dairy creamers are usually comprised of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and corn syrup. These ingredients may help to recreate the mouthfeel of dairy, but may have a negative impact on your health. Corn syrup is a concentrated form of sugar, and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are often high in trans-fat. If you can, try some of the alternatives below to non-dairy creamers as they offer a wider range of nutrients!
Healthier Alternative: Try cow’s, coconut or almond milk
Using cow’s milk in your coffee will not only help reduce the natural bitterness, but it will also add a boost of protein to your drink! If you are avoiding dairy for any reason such as a lactose intolerance or milk protein allergy, using alternatives such as unsweetened almond or coconut milk can help boost the flavor of your beverage, without the harmful effects that trans-fat and corn syrup in the non-dairy creamers bring along with them.
The important thing to remember here is that you do not need to cut coffee from your diet. Coffee, when consumed in moderation can have a positive impact on your health. Just be sure to remain mindful of what you are adding to that delicious beverage!
Your turn to take action:
Try changing up your morning coffee order. If you commonly add one of the listed items above, experiment with a healthier alternative and get creative with it until you find a combination you love!