Who doesn’t love coffee? For many there’s no better way than a steaming hot cup to start the day. To benefit from a healthy lifestyle, what you consume is equally important as taking care of your body and mind. But just what exactly is inside this caffeinated brew? It’s time to find out if a cup of java’s actually good for your overall wellbeing.
The Effects of Caffeine
Some drink coffee as a stimulant to stay awake, feel energised or increase their focus while others enjoy a social cup over lunch or to unwind after a tasty meal. Coffee contains a high amount of antioxidants. Some studies reveal this is good for you, while other studies show that drinking coffee can lead to anxiety and stress from increased cortisol.
Your genes can actually influence how coffee is metabolised in your body. Some people can do this more effectively than others. Each person differs according to their caffeine consumption and individual tolerance. If you feel jittery, have an increased heart rate, or can’t sleep well, you may be sensitive to caffeine or drink too much coffee.
The Benefits of Drinking Coffee
While coffee contains caffeine—and is one of the richest natural sources of this in our diet—its complex molecules are what offer numerous health benefits.
By drinking two to four 250ml cups of coffee daily, you have a decreased risk of contracting cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and heart disease. In addition, a study discovered that people who drink a lot of coffee have a longer lifespan than those who don’t. New research also shows that coffee can help you lose weight.
When Should You Drink Coffee?
If you have a caffeine sensitivity, it’s wise to limit yourself to one or two cups in the early morning. This shouldn’t impact your ability to fall asleep at night.
It’s recommended that drinking coffee in the mid- to late-morning is best when your cortisol levels are lower. If you wake up at 6:30am, the ideal window for caffeine consumption should be between 9:30 and 11:30am. By not drinking caffeine after 2 or 3pm you may also sleep better.
Coffee Preparation Tip
How should you drink your coffee? These tips will help you improve the health benefits of each cup:
- Pick a good quality brand (organic coffee beans will be sprayed with fewer synthetic pesticides)
- Avoid instant coffee (use coffee beans instead and grind them yourself). A potential disadvantage of instant coffee is its acrylamide content. This chemical, which forms when coffee beans are roasted, may occur in instant coffee as much as double the amount found in regular coffee. The result? Possible increased risk of cancer and harm to your nervous system.
- Use less sugar (a natural sweetener such as stevia is an alternative)
- Stay away from artificial and low-fat creamers (these are highly processed) and add full-fat cream or milk instead
- Brew with a paper filter (this reduces the levels of cafestol that can raise your cholesterol)
Here are three easy mouth-watering coffee-inspired recipes to try at home:
(Preparation time: 5 minutes | Serves: 2 | Difficulty: Easy)
Originating from Spain, Café Bombon mixes espresso with sweetened condensed milk to create a sweet and eye-catching refreshing after-dinner treat.
- 1 ½ cups brewed espresso/ground coffee, chilled (the number of espresso shots depends on your personal preference)
- ½ cup sweetened condensed milk, chilled (use in equal parts to the espresso/ground coffee)
- Sprinkle of cinnamon
- Crushed ice
Make your own espresso or ground coffee using your home espresso machine or store-bought espresso powder. Chill. In two glasses, divide the espresso shots/ground coffee. Carefully fill the glasses with the divided sweetened condensed milk to continue the layering effect. Alternatively, fill the glasses first with condensed milk and then pour espresso shots/ground coffee on top. Fill the glasses with crushed ice and finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.
Serving suggestion: Use a clear glass to admire and enhance the delightful division and contrasting colours of the coffee and milk. Stir before each sip. Use vanilla-flavoured coffee for an iced vanilla Café Bombon.
Chocolate Coffee Mousse
(Preparation time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 3 minutes | Serves: 1 | Difficulty: Easy)
An ideal mix of coffee and chocolate in a deliciously tasty mousse. Make it ahead of time and enjoy it as a dinner party dessert.
- 2 cups heavy cream (divided)
- 250g semi-sweet chocolate
- 3 large egg yolks
- 6T sugar (divided)
- 2tsp instant espresso powder
In a bowl over boiling water or in short bursts in the microwave, melt the chocolate. In a saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, espresso powder, 4 tablespoons of the sugar and ¾ cup of the cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously using a silicone spatula until the coffee dissolves and blends completely and is a caramel brown colour. Add the melted chocolate to the mixture and whisk until smooth, then refrigerate until completely chilled. Beat the remaining cream and sugar until stiff. Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge. Whisk it slightly until smooth and fold in the whipped cream. Divide the mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate for minimum one hour.
(Preparation time: 15 minutes | Serves: 2 | Difficulty: Easy)
This classic no-bake Italian dessert combines espresso-dipped shortbread and a creamy slightly sweetened mousse. It’s the perfect bring and share pudding.
- 200g shortbread biscuits/finger biscuits
- 200g low-fat cottage cheese
- 100g sour cream
- 50g sugar
- 1L instant coffee
- 1tsp vanilla essence/extract
- cocoa powder
In a blender mix the cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Prepare the coffee and dip each biscuit into it for five seconds. In a glass dish alternately layer the biscuits and cream to construct the dessert. Finish off with a sprinkling of a little cocoa powder through a sieve. Refrigerate overnight.
As with everything, enjoy your coffee in moderation. This hot drink packs a punch and can certainly perk up your day, but make sure you limit your intake otherwise drinking too much could reduce its general health benefits.
Date Published: 02 March 2021