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If you’re like me, you’ve had a longtime battle with the desire to over-consume coffee. While I don’t consider myself to have an addictive personality by any means, coffee was always my go-to unhealthy vice. That is, until I started to recognize some of the ways in which my coffee habits were less than ideal for my health, both short-term and longterm.

It was clear to me my coffee drinking habits needed to be overhauled. These are my secrets to staying healthy while not having to cut coffee out completely.

Avoid Decaf Coffee

For those who love the taste of coffee but don’t particularly enjoy the buzz of caffeine, decaf coffee is a staple. While excessive amounts of caffeine are unhealthy, it’s actually oftentimes worse to go for a decaffeinated cup.

According to a scholarly article on the decaffeination process, decaf is less healthy due to these reasons:

  • Heart attack rates may increase due to drinking decaffeinated coffee.
  • Decaf coffee beans are more acidic than regular beans.
  • Raised cholesterol can be a side effect of drinking decaf.
  • Decaf still produces some unfavorable metabolic issues.

If you’d like to start drinking coffee again but don’t want the over stimulation that can occur to those who are sensitive to caffeine, reach for other types of less-caffeinated coffee beverages, like single shot lattes for example, instead of decaf.  

Opt For An Americano

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While drip coffee has always held a place in my heart, not much rivals the smooth simplicity of a perfectly crafted Americano. Since espresso beans contain less caffeine than regular coffee beans, it can be a more ideal option. This drink is defined by having two main ingredients: espresso shots and water.

Sometimes a splash of flavor or milk is added to excite the palate, but the milk in your coffee is actually another harmful element that gets overlooked.

Try Dairy Alternatives

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Milk is really not very healthy, unless it’s minimally processed or raw milk. It’s a well-known fact that mainstream milk (I’m mostly looking at you 2% and skim milk) is extremely processed to improve shelf life and for other regulation issues. It’s often times full of additives and hormones, contains excessive amounts of unhealthy fats, and is a slap in the face to those who are lactose intolerant.

Fortunately a plethora of alternatives exist, which can typically be bought for around the same price as dairy milk. Take a chance on alternatives made from the following ingredients:

  • Almond
  • Rice
  • Soy
  • Cashew
  • Coconut
  • Flax
  • Hemp  

Do Away With K-cups

About a third of Americans currently own a pod-based coffee maker, and Keurig is brand behind the hype. Sure you get a lot of variety with the plethora of coffee pod variations out there, but is it really worth the environmental toll?

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A vast majority of these coffee pods unfortunately end up in landfills because most of them are not recyclable. If you absolutely must use a Keurig, do what’s right for the world: invest in a reusable coffee pod.

In addition to the environmental hazards of K-cups, the coffee within the little plastic demons is also excessively processed, depending on the brand. Choose higher quality coffee instead, and go for organic coffee whenever possible.

Ditch The Splenda

Are you still using Splenda as a zero calorie sweetener? Seriously, that synthetic, damaging excuse of a sugar alternative?

Splenda is not a healthy addition to coffee. But it is a major cause of dietary induced diabetes and cancer. And beyond the obvious health hazards, the taste is not convincing. It tastes like the sugar equivalent of processed cheese food.

If you are still in questioning whether or not Splenda is unhealthy, check out this previous post by the Hearty Soul and explore what happens to your body when you eat Splenda.

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A great alternative to Splenda is the natural plant based sweetener Stevia. It isn’t packed with additives and can typically be found in the organic sections of grocery stores.

Brew Cold Brew Instead

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Many people assume that cold brewed and iced coffee are the same exact thing. However,  they are actually quite different.

Image via Joyride Coffee

When iced coffee is made, it’s brewed with hot water at double strength but cold brew coffee is curated with a different process. No heat is used when making cold brew. Simply take coffee grounds, put them in water, and let stand for at least ten hours (either at room temp or in your refrigerator). Then strain, and the cold brew is done!

An article by the cold brew company, Toddy Coffee, points out:

“Many coffee lovers find regular brewed coffee too acidic. According to the National Heartburn Alliance, of the estimated 54 million Americans who suffer heartburn, 75% say beverages such as coffee can cause it.”

In summary, cold brewed coffee is much less acidic than other methods involving heat.

I always make cold brew in a somewhat random place: hotel rooms. I absolutely despise the terrible coffee and crusty auto coffee pots in hotels. So I hack hotel room coffee stations by using the room’s less than ideal coffee and making some cold brew. The coffee tastes terrible in their old school mini coffee pots but it’s much more drinkable when it’s cold brewed.

While coffee may be the lifeblood for some, it doesn’t have to be extremely addictive or excessively unhealthy. Practice some restraint in the additions you make to your cup of Joe and remember to always be mindful of additives and waste when you drink your morning brew.

Image Sources:

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/coldbrewcoffee2.jpg

http://thehappinessinhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/graphicsmall.jpg

http://static.americastestkitchenfeed.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/STP_ColdBrewedCoffee_9431-653×436.jpg

http://img.aws.livestrongcdn.com/ls-1200×630/cme/cme_public_images/www_livestrong_com/photos.demandstudios.com/getty/article/250/29/79897899_XS.jpg

http://i.cbc.ca/1.2962517.1457472643!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/original_300/keurig-s-single-serving-k-cups.jpg

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