Coffee has been around for ages and we all know its alluring smell, it’s fresh, hot taste and the donkey breath we get after drinking it. It is highly acidic to our bodies and unfortunately, a large number of people “can’t wake up” without it. What if you’re not into it? You don’t believe the hype. What if you want something more on the natural, less adrenaline-pumped side? Let’s explore some great coffee alternatives and their benefits:
1. Yerba Mate: This is a natural caffeinated beverage that is part of the holly family. It is indigenous to South America and VERY popular in Uruguay, where the locals drink it out of gourds with metal straws. Some of its properties have a slight relaxing effect on smooth muscle tissues and it also contains potassium, magnesium and manganese. It tastes more earthy and it really great for brain function. I personally like the Guayaki brand found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and most health food stores. Contains 45mg of caffeine per 8 oz. and doesn’t ever make me feel weird or jittery. (I’m the most sensitive person to caffeine EVER).
2. Green Tea: Full of flavonoids, antioxidants and anti-carcinogenics, green tea is my favorite morning beverage. Green tea does have tannins so you need to steep it for less time than other teas. When I lived in Japan, I experienced some of my most amazing green teas ever! It’s fun to play with different ones and compare their flavor profiles. It has less caffeine than black tea…around 25-60mg per 8 oz. (coffee has around 95-200mg per 8 oz.)
3. Kukicha Tea: A Japanese twig tea that has half the caffeine of coffee is derived from other parts of the tea plant that usually aren’t included in tea blends. This gives it a unique flavor that is great sweetened with some brown rice syrup. I like the Eden Foods brand.
*A word about the decaffeination process. There isn’t a lot of dense research in this area, but so far research supports the best method of decaffeination is the carbon dioxide (CO2)is one the safest forms of decaffeination, while helping the tea keep the greatest flavor and health benefits. Tea decaffeinated using the CO2 method retains 92 percent of its antioxidants compared to tea decaffeinated using the ethyl acetate process, which only retains 18 percent.
If you drink coffee, limit yourself a little so you don’t become dehydrated or dependent on it. Being dependent on caffeine isn’t good for us at all (even though coffee does have good benefits as well). Try to get as much sleep as possible so you can function without it. If you would like to transition into less caffeine, just know to expect some headaches in the beginning. They should only last a couple of days but stick with it! You can do it 🙂