Coffee has been getting a lot of positive press lately – almost to the point of being touted as a health food. Michael Mosley’s even wrote an article called “coffee v smoothies: which is better for you”. Indeed, there is more and more evidence supporting the consumption of coffee – especially if it is high quality, organic -and you add a tablespoon of coconut oil or two. And since this nutritionist couldn’t imagine starting her day without it, I thought I’d share some of the facts.
The coffee habit
Back when I was doing my degree in Nutrition, the coffee habit was sometimes spoken about as if an addiction – a bit like alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Other than the fact that coffee contained antioxidants, the rest was negative was mostly negative. Anti-nutrient, intestinal irritant, adrenal stressor, diuretic, and pro-aging were the reasons for recommending people reduce their intake to one cup a day – or even attempt to give it up completely!
Not just caffeine
Don’t get me wrong – there is truth in the above and we all know that excess consumption can also result in irritability and insomnia. However, coffee is enjoying a rebirth – and justifiably so. This is partly because no study has ever shown that drinking coffee contributes to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer or diabetes. In fact there is growing evidence that coffee may actually protect against the risk of diabetes 2Parkinson’s , Alzheimer’s and liver disease.
Rich in flavonoids, plant compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and anticoagulant properties, it also appears to improve athletic performance – one reason I often recommend people drink coffee before exercising. Other studies have examined the effects that caffeine has on the brain and have found that it improves mood, reaction time, memory and overall cognitive function. Regularly drinking coffee can even protect men against prostate cancer and women against endometrial cancer.
But better than smoothies?
That all depends on what’s in them. Dr. Mosley compared coffee with smoothies made from fruit – which we all know are not the same thing as those made from veggies. Fruits used to make smoothies tend to be very sweet and commercial ones are almost always made with bananas, mangos, pineapples and melon. Blending destroys their fibre, resulting in a sugary drink with a very high glycaemic load.
Of course, you’re getting nutrients from the fruit, but any benefit must be weighed against the negative effect all that sugar has on your blood sugar levels, immune system, teeth and weight. Vegetable smoothies, on the other hand, are a powerhouse of nutrients, with a low glycaemic load.
Get the best of both!
- Most health benefits are linked to moderate consumption (2-4 cups a day of filtered coffee) – don’t overdo it.
- Buy organic dark roasted coffee – less toxins, less caffeine and more antioxidants.
- If possible grind your grains yourself – the oils in pre-ground coffee can go rancid quite quickly.
- Milk and sugar add calories – ideally opt for black (0 calories) or use with moderation (cappuchinos and frappachinos can contain anything from 100 to 600 calories!).
- If pregnant don’t exceed I cup daily – the foetus is extremely sensitive to caffeine and over consumption has been linked to miscarriage).
- Concentrate on vegetables for your smoothies – cucumber, fennel, spinach, parsley, kale, celery, lettuce.
- Use sweet fruits in moderation. Favour low glycemic fruits like apples, pears, berries, kiwi and avocado.
- Avoid over-liquefying. Instead, blend until a coarse consistency to preserve fibre content and blunt the insulin response.
- Include fats and protein in your smoothies (avocado, hemp, coconut, maca, seeds and nuts) – these take longer to digest, keeping you fuller longer and helping maintain stable energy levels.
So, if you were wondering whether you needed to choose between your morning cuppa and a healthy green smoothie – the good news is you don’t. Have your coffee – and don’t forget that smoothie too!
For nutritional consultations on a wide range of health issues contact Susan Tomassini, Licensed Nutritionist BSc (Hons) Dip BCNH @ 06 17481114 or visit www.foodwise.life for your personalized nutritional program!
“Frozen Monkey” chocolate and banana smoothie – another delicious coffee treat!
- 2 frozen bananas, sliced
- 4 shots espresso, cooled
- 1 1/2 cups milk (I use almond milk – but feel free to choose)
- 2 teaspoons raw cacao powder or regular cocoa powder
- 2 Medjool dates, pitted
- 1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
Combine all ingredients in the jar of a blender and blend on high speed until perfectly smooth, about 30 seconds. Divide between two glasses and serve immediately.