Just when you thought you couldn’t love coffee any more.
You probably figure your daily requisite mug of caffeine was perfect all on its glorious own. But what if we told you that with a few ~enhancements~ you can make your morning coffee a whole lot more effective? As in, brain-unlocking and de-fogging, free-radical fighting, and antioxidant-loaded benefits. With a few small tweaks to your current order and some simple additions, your coffee can become an important part of your healthy eating routine. We asked Dr. Lisa Mosconi, associate director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell and author of BRAIN FOOD: The Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power, to break down the best ways to amplify the health benefits of a cup of coffee.
Take It Black
The easiest way to clean up your coffee order is by cutting out all the other stuff and opting for straight-up brewed beans. Taking your coffee black—we promise, after a few cups without milk or sugar, you’ll start to love it just as much—is essential. Instead of going cold turkey, slowly reduce the amount of sweet stuff in your cuppa joe. You’ll be down to none much quicker than you think. As for what kind of coffee? “I am partial to a good espresso,” Dr. Mosconi says. “It is in itself the healthiest and most powerful type of coffee you’ll ever find—especially a doppio,” she continues. “Many studies have shown that doppio espresso [i.e., two shots] contains the highest amount of antioxidants (anti-aging, free-radical-fighting nutrients) than any other beverage on the planet.”
Go for Organic
As with almost everything else, choosing beans that are free of pesticides and preservatives and are cultivated using ethical resources and practices amounts to a better-tasting cup of coffee.
Now that you’ve eliminated the fluff that doesn’t do much in the name of health, you can add in a few good-for-you ingredients like cinnamon. “Cinnamon has a neuroprotective action and supports cardiovascular health, too,” Dr. Mosconi explains. “And what’s good for the heart is good for the brain.”
Dr. Mosconi also suggests adding raw cacao: “Raw cacao is rich in theobromine, a stimulant known to support cellular aging and to protect brain cells from free-radical attacks.”
“There is evidence that drinking two to three cups of coffee a day (or one to two espressos) is supportive of brain health and has been associated with reduced risk of dementia later in life. But there is no evidence that drinking more coffee would further improve cognitive fitness,” Dr. Mosconi suggests. “Rather, too much coffee can affect heart health and sleep, and/or promote dehydration, which all affect brain health,” she warns. Drink a glass of water before and after your coffee to avoid dehydration.
Editor’s Note: As ever, we are not doctors or medical know-it-alls. And everybody is different, so make sure to check with a doctor before trying anything new.
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