5 Unusual (+ Effective) Substitutions for Coffee

This is a guest post from Sam Negrin | creator and EIC of AllGoodHealth.net

There is something really relaxing about a big beautiful latte in the morning, and (pending your individual health), that doesn’t have to change. Coffee only raises red flags when we begin to double and triple up on cups with loaded milk, sugar and artificial flavoring. Coffee is also a diuretic, which dehydrates the body and can introduce too much acid resulting in heart burn or acid reflux. Some people also find it increases anxiety and deceases the ability to focus.

Β If you’re having more than one cup per day because of the energy boost we all crave (and need), there are so many other holistic options to choose from. Green tea is an alternative you have probably read about before, and for good reason. But if you’re feeling adventurous, here are 5 more unusual substitutions you can try:

1. Yerba Mate:
Native to the leaves of the South American rainforest holly tree, yerba mate has just as much, if not more, caffeine than coffee. It also boasts an incredible amount of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals. It’s been used in Native South American societies as a beverage to drink before you eat, because it helps you feel full quicker (great for weight loss). There are many companies selling bottled yerba mate, but if you want something simple with less calories, go for the hot tea bags.

2. Maca:Β This is an amazing multi-functional root used in indigenous Andean societies for energy, strength and libido. It has been coined the “miracle drug” or “food of the gods”. A scoop of this to your morning smoothie will have you soaring through your morning – literally – with an intense amount of energy.

3. Cordyceps: This is actually a mushroom that, wait for it… grows on high-altitude caterpillars. *Before you exit the page, hear this out – cordyceps is consumed in a powder form and is used traditionally in Chinese medicine for increased stamina and athletic performance. It increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy source for your muscles; many professional athletes and Olympians consume this regularly. It’s an amazing additive to smoothies or herbal tea, found at specialty health food stores or online.

4. Cacao: Chocolate! Yes! Cacao, not to be confused with cocoa, is an antioxidant powerhouse that decreases inflammation and increases circulation in the body. Raw cacao has mood-enhancing properties that increase brain flow. Mix 1 tbsp of cacao with a frozen banana and nondairy milk for an amazing afternoon energy boost.

5. Ginseng: This is a root used in traditional medicine to increase strength and stamina, improve overall cardiovascular performance and cognitive function. It’s believed to completely restore the body to its natural state of balanced well-being. You can find ginseng tea in most grocery stores.

Photos: Honestly YUM





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  1. I highly recommend to make a coffee by grinding coffee beans by yourself and brew it in a coffee press glass. The results, effect of coffee and the feelings are totally different from those fast and easy coffee machines…taste also is different!
    Downside is, it takes more time to prepare…but it will make your soul fly!!!

    1. Were you aware of the fact that pressed coffee raises cholesterol? I know it sounds crazy, but we learned the hard way when my husband switched to pressed coffee and his cholesterol levels skyrocketed. Sure enough, when he went back to drip coffee, the situation corrected itself.

  2. “Coffee only raises red flags when we begin to double and triple up on cups with loaded milk, sugar and artificial flavoring.”

    I would say the second part of this is true. The milk, sugar and flavors are the bad stuff. Coffee, as a black cup of strained toasted bean juice, has not been found to be harmful, in almost any form. There are several, upon several, upon multiple peer-reviewed science articles showing that coffee has amazing antioxident, anti-inflammatory, anti-hypertensive properties for humans.

    ” The results of epidemiological research suggest that coffee consumption may help prevent several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease (cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma). Most prospective cohort studies have not found coffee consumption to be associated with significantly increased cardiovascular disease risk. ” in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition Volume 46, Issue 2, 2006

    This is just one example. As a practicing pediatrician, and scholar of nutrition, I have not seen anything in medical literature warning against more than 4 cups of coffee per day, and most studies promote that 3 cups per day is optimal (“For adults consuming moderate amounts of coffee (3–4 cups/d providing 300–400 mg/d of caffeine), there is little evidence of health risks and some evidence of health benefits.”). That being said, as any logical and reasonable human should know: moderation is key. Anything in-excess or too much restriction, can be deleterious to one’s health. I would also heed the fact that substances and supplements you mentioned above don’t undergo rigorous FDA standards or health studies (as most of our “health supplements” don’t).

    I am not ready to give up my 4-5 cup per day habit based on a blog reference. Then again, I need this much to get through all those parent questions in clinic. πŸ™‚ Cheers.
    I like the fashion stuff…

  3. I prefer to drink yerba mate the traditional way. I will be bringing back my bombilla and gourd from Miami to bring home with me to Montenegro this fall. It’s the perfect work, study or campfire companion!

  4. I have tried ginseng tea and could not finish a cup. And I can pretty much get anything down. Even adding another teabag of a different tea (e.g., peppermint) to mask the taste didn’t help. Having had to give up coffee for medical reasons, there are things you can switch out for it. However, there is really NO substitute for it, or anything that comes near to that strong earthy coffee mingled with milk/almond/soy/cream.

  5. I read, then tried black coffee with a teaspoon of added coconut oil…..definitely different but better for you! Try it!

    1. try it with cinnamon stick too (a small one of course!). just drop it in your coffeecup. u can also use it for 2 or 3 times…it gives it a completely new taste…I liked that!

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