Is it healthy? Is it part of a healthy lifestyle? Should I cut it out? (some of my most frequent questions)
Well that all depends.
Coffee, by nature (pun intended) is simply a seed. Yes a seed (but referred to as a bean) from the berries of the Coffea plant. Once ripe, coffee berries are picked, processed and dried. Dried coffee berries (beans) are then roasted in various ways depending on desired flavors. The roasted beans are what you find as 'whole bean' coffee.
Coffee naturally contains several compounds such as: caffeine, antioxidants and diterpines. While the 'health' of caffeine has been widely debated, there are some great health benefits to the compounds above:
Much of the debate over caffeine is rooted in the the synthetic version being added to unhealthy drinks like sugar and chemical-filled sodas and energy drinks. However, it is not necessarily the caffeine that makes the drink unhealthy but rather the other additives in the said drinks. Coffee is brewed with water and ground coffee beans. That's it.
Caffeine in it's natural form has been shown to have many benefits such as improved attention, alertness and physical performance. Adversely, caffeine can also have negative affects in some individuals such as sleep disturbances, shaking and anxiety. Each person's tolerance will vary but a typical cup of coffee contains 80-100mg of caffeine - a pretty safe consumption amount.
Antioxidants are disease fighting agents that pack a punch and coffee is the number one source of antioxidants in the typical American's diet. Antioxidants help fight free radicals consumed in the form of chemical-laden processed foods and commercial farmed foods, alcohol, air pollution, cigarette smoke, etc.
Diterpines: Diterpines are compounds that are naturally found in the oil contained in coffee. Some studies have shown that high quantities of diterpines via coffee may raise serum cholesterol but the compounds are also known to be antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory (score!). Diterpines, because of their anti-inflammatory nature, have been shown to safeguard against some cancers (more score!)
That covers the basics of coffee in it's pure form.
So is coffee "good for you"? In safe consumption amounts (1-2 cups per day or about 16 ounces) - yes! And here are some of my favorite healthier additives to make your coffee a little more flavorful!
Mocha: 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 packet stevia + So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (blend or shake and pour over coffee so it is foamy like a latte!)
Peppermint Mocha: 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder + 1 packet stevia + drop of peppermint extract + So Delicious Coconut Milk Creamer (blend or shake and pour over coffee so it is foamy like a latte!)
Vanilla Latte: 1 tsp organic Madagascar vanilla + 1 packet stevia + Cashew milk(blend or shake and pour over coffee so it is foamy like a latte!)
Pumpkin Spice: Blend 2 T. pureed pumpkin + 1 packet stevia + pumpkin spice (dry spice) + So Delicious Cashew Milk or Cashew Milk (blend or shake and pour over coffee so it is foamy like a latte!)