We’re one month into 2020, and what a year it’s been already! Are you starting to wobble on those resolutions you made so confidently just a few short weeks ago? Are you thinking wistfully about a steaming mug of coffee or tea, maybe with a little whole milk? Don’t you just love to curl up with a soothing cup of hot chocolate and a good book?
Shred those resolutions and indulge with a clear conscience. Some of life’s guilty pleasures turn out to be good for you! This article will focus on hot beverages that people give up for New Year’s in the mistaken belief that self-deprivation equals healthy living.
Take coffee, for instance. This is one of life’s joys that often ends up on the scrap heap come the new year. If we're not cutting back on the number of cups we consume each day, we're switching to decaf or striking it off the menu altogether.
But we really don’t have to. Apart from giving us discernible improvements in alertness, focus and concentration, scientists have discovered that coffee can:
- Reduce our chances of getting cancer
- Curb premature aging
- Retard cognitive decline
- Prevent diabetes
- Promote weight loss
- Lower risks of liver or heart disease
Harboring no fewer than six antioxidant species, coffee protects us from the ravages of the ubiquitous free radicals that pummel our cell membranes, shred the linings of our blood vessels and wreak havoc with critical macromolecules such as proteins and nucleic acids (DNA, RNA).How much coffee do we drink?
Today’s American consumes between one and two grams of antioxidants each day, most of which comes from tea and coffee. Although foods like berries actually contain more antioxidants per gram, we tend to consume more coffee each day than we eat berries. Studies in Norway and Finland reveal that 64 percent of antioxidants come from coffee. Here, the average coffee intake is between 450 and 500 milliliters, or two to four cups(1). Research from Spain, Japan, France and Poland confirms that coffee is the best source of antioxidants.
Many people prefer tea to coffee. Tea doesn’t always contain caffeine, but when it does, it contains 20 percent as much as a strong cup of coffee (200 ml). Strong coffee contains 100 - 300mg caffeine, whereas tea contains between 20 and 60 mg. Decaffeinated and some herbal teas are caffeine-free.
In the brain, caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine. Adenosine accumulates throughout the day to promote drowsiness and get us ready to go to sleep at night.
What tea does contain in abundance are three other stimulants: theanine, theobromine and theophylline. All four of these stimulants are also found in cocoa beans, which we’ll get to in a moment.
The role of theanine, an amino acid, is to stimulate brain activity and increase alertness and focus. The anime allows caffeine to stimulate the brain without the accompanying increases in blood pressure and anxiety.
Both theobromine and theophylline are members of the xanthine class of chemical compounds. Theophylline relaxes the smooth muscles in the airway and makes it easier to breathe. It also stimulates both the rate and force of heart contractions. Theophylline is used to treat lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.
Theobromine also stimulates the heart, but it has a mild diuretic effect and increases blood flow throughout the body. The net effect is a reduction in blood pressure.
Chocolate — quite possibly the cruelest deprivation of all. And why? How will any one of us make the world a better place by denying ourselves this simple, affordable, and surprisingly healthy treat?
Both chocolate and cocoa come from beans that are packed with powerful antioxidants, those marvelous scavengers that makes up the damaging free radicals that are produced by the millions in every single one of our body’s cells. Specifically, they contain compounds called flavonoids. The more natural, the higher the cocoa level, and the less processing, the higher levels of healthy antioxidants.
Full fat dairy products
If chocolate is the cruelest of our annual self-imposed deprivations, then full fat dairy is the most surprising. Research has shown that, far from adding pounds to our collective waistlines, consuming whole milk and other full fat dairy products can actually help lose weight(2).
When you take a close look at the facts, it’s not that far fetched. We may think two percent milk is way lower in fat than whole milk, but full fat milk only contains around 3.5 percent fat, not 100 percent. It’s all in the way we interpret the two percent!
Moreover, milk is good for you. An eight ounce glass contains 28% of your RDA for calcium, 24% of your RDA for vitamin D, along with riboflavin, vitamin B12, potassium, phosphorus and selenium(3).
What does this mean? It means we can add full fat milk to our tea, coffee and hot chocolate with a clear conscience.
Despite what we often believe, not all of life’s pleasures are bad for you. Coffee, tea, chocolate and full fat dairy products all have their redeeming values. There are times, though, when you really can’t indulge. Sometimes you have medical reasons for avoiding caffeine or dairy, or maybe you’re giving one of these not-so-guilty little treats up for religious reasons.
For those times, you have NATURELO! If you want to boost your antioxidants, try NATURELO Raw Greens Whole Food Powder, NATURELO One Daily Multivitamins or NATURELO Vitamin E. If you’re looking for calcium, there’s NATURELO Bone Strength with plant-derived calcium and magnesium.