There might not be anything quite as satisfying as waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and taking that first sip early in the morning. Given that over half of the population drinks coffee each day, it's worth ensuring your habit is a healthy one. Sneaky creamers can be full of trans fat and sugar, which might make your daily pick-me-up far less healthy than you think.
Don't ditch your morning cup altogether, though. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, coffee may lessen the risk of type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, cirrhosis, gallstones, and Parkinson's disease. A recent study even found that the beverage could lower a person's risk of mortality. That's why we tapped registered dietitian Abigail Kinnear to share her tips for reaping the health benefits and avoiding common traps. Here's how to give your morning ritual a health makeover.
Drink the Right Amount
It's easy to go overboard on coffee when you don't get a good amount of sleep or work has you itching for a caffeine boost, but Kinnear recommends following the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for coffee consumption. You can indulge in up to three to five cups a day when incorporating the drink into a healthy-eating routine, according to Kinnear.
Cut Back on Added Sugar
"Sugar adds empty calories and basically no nutritive value," explains Kinnear. Instead of mindlessly reaching for packets of sugar each day, be mindful of how much you add to each cup, as it adds up quickly over time. Try a sugar alternative or natural sweeteners like cinnamon and nut milk.
Check Your Portion Size
While Kinnear suggests following the guidelines that specify drinking no more than three to five cups of coffee a day, the size of those cups matters. "If you're trying to stick to the recommended limit of three to five cups per day, check the capacity of your serving vessel—one mug may be more than you think," she says. If you like to enjoy your morning cup in a large mug, simply take its size into account when mulling over another pour.
Use Real Milk
"Creamers can contain a long list of artificial ingredients and added sugars," Kinnear explains. Avoid the excess ingredients and opt for real milk instead. You can also use a nut milk like almond, coconut, or cashew to steer clear of dairy, but Kinnear advises you still check the labels to be sure you know exactly what you're putting into your body.
If you follow these tips, you'll be on your way to a healthy coffee habit that fits right into your lifestyle. It's these small changes that can make a big difference in the long run. Get ready to enjoy your morning cup along with the many health benefits it may bring.