Many Americans start their day with a nice cup of coffee. For many of us, coffee comes in one of two ways. Black, or no add-ins, or with some milk and sugar. That’s it. If you want a cup of joe, that’s what you’re getting. Today, there are more options than ever. You can get lattes, espressos, Frappuccinos and more. If you’re looking for a way to get an additional health boost out of your coffee, you’re in luck.
Looking outside of traditional mix-ins, you’ll find many oft-overlooked ingredients that can take your coffee to the next level. Maybe, it’s time to take another look at what you’re putting in your mug.
For many people, peppermint mochas are a go-to drink in the winter. You don’t have to wait until December to enjoy the many healthy bonuses. Peppermint has been used as a folk medicine since the 18th century. The earliest uses of peppermint for health had to do with pain relief, most notably with stomach pain. Not only is it effective against irritable bowel syndrome, peppermint can settle indigestion. This makes a bit of peppermint in your coffee your stomach’s best friend!
Furthermore, peppermint is a reliable source of antioxidants and antibacterials, which goes some way toward explaining why it can help with a sickness or coughs. Peppermint is also a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene and several minerals.
The easiest way to add peppermint to your coffee is by using peppermint oil. This is an extraction of the essential oils from the peppermint plant. Be sparing with how much you add to your coffee. It’s easy to have it overwhelm the rest of the drink.
Coconut oil has been one of those chic ingredients that your cool friends have been telling you to add to just about everything. They may legitimately be on to something. Just don’t tell them that. They’ll never let you hear the end of it! (We have that friend, too.) Coconut oil is rich in triglycerides, a healthy saturated fat. It has been noted that this type of fat may boost your HDL levels, which helps remove bad cholesterol.
Besides regulating cholesterol, coconut oil can help you lose weight. First, coconut oil boosts your metabolism, helping you burn more calories. This comes from its high content of medium chain triglycerides. Coconut oil also helps decrease your appetite, while boosting your energy levels.
The popularity of coconut oil has also made it easy to find in your local grocery store. Coconut oil typically comes in two forms — liquid or firmer. Generally, you want the firmer, since many of the liquid coconut oils are for external use only. Check the label to make sure you’re getting the right kind of oil.
So, we’ve discussed dark chocolate before. In fact, we’ve supported its use several times, and for good reason. Dark chocolate, in moderation, is great for you. Keep in mind, dark chocolate is considered 70 percent or higher chocolate. This difference is important. Dark chocolate is less processed than lighter chocolates (like milk chocolate), so the nutrients and healthy compounds are more prevalent.
Chief among these compounds are flavonols. Flavonols are natural compounds found in many fruits and vegetables, but notably in dark chocolate. They are rich in antioxidants, promote healthy blood vessel function, and lower risks of certain diseases and cancers, among other benefits. Dark chocolate has shown to aid seniors with mild cognitive impairment and is considered a brain food.
Dark chocolate is fairly easy to add to your coffee. Simply break off a small portion of the bar (remember, moderation is key) and put it in your mug. Then, add the hot coffee and stir until the chocolate is fully integrated.
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For many people, coffee is coffee. In a way, it’s a means to an end, how you start the day. That doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy it, too. But instead of adding more sugar or something sweet, we can get a little more out of it. These suggestions taste delicious and are healthy in moderation. You can even combine them (say peppermint and dark chocolate in your coffee, YUM)! There are not many better ways to get going in the morning!