For years, we’ve been told breakfast is the most important meal of the day (though some would argue against that advice). But for those of us who need a little extra push to access our inner morning person, scrambling an egg isn’t even fathomable until we’ve at least had one (or five) cups of joe.
Studies have shown that drinking coffee alone has health benefits that go beyond helping us become real humans again—like reducing our risk of type 2 diabetes. But since it’s the very first thing we put in our bodies each day after we open our eyes, why not see if there’s a way to sneak a few extra nutrients in there?
Here are a few of our favorite hacks to
justify your insatiable caffeine addiction pack even more nutrition into your daily caffeine routine.
1. Add a dash of cinnamon.
Here’s a way to add a little seasonal flair to your caffeine routine while also supporting heart health and balancing blood sugar levels. (PSL, can you do that?) Adding a pinch of cinnamon can boost antioxidants, lower your blood sugar, and even cut your risk of heart disease. Plus, it tastes so good that you might finally kick the cream and sugar habit because, really, it doesn’t need anything else.
2. Drink more chocolate.
OK, just to be clear, we’re not encouraging you to start melting entire Hershey’s bars into your coffee. But adding a little cocoa is cool with us.
Here’s why: Adding a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa (we’re talking the fermented seeds from the cacao tree) offers anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities that can help your body by lowering blood pressure, balancing cholesterol, and helping to manage type 2 diabetes. Think a homemade mocha with zero added sugar, although we think a little drizzle of maple syrup would be good in this too.
3. Add flavor with coconut oil.
If you like your coffee on the sweeter side, swap out those artificial vanilla and hazelnut creamers and syrups for a naturally tropical taste by adding a tablespoon of coconut oil. And while coconut oil might not be the “cure-all” it’s made out to be, adding it to your coffee may have a few health benefits, from contributing to weight loss to possibly preventing Alzheimer’s disease. While these health claims are still under investigation, we think it’s worth adding it to your coffee for the flavor alone. The creaminess is crazy.
4. Call in the collagen.
From health bloggers to celebs (hey, Jennifer Aniston), it seems like everyone is hopping on the collagen bandwagon this year—adding it to smoothies, cooked meals, and… you guessed it… coffee. If you’re not on board yet, don’t believe everything you hear about collagen—sprinkling it into a smoothie probably won’t make you look 30 years younger.
Here’s what you should know: Collagen is the protein-rich connective material between tissue and bones (so, yup, veg-heads, you’ll have to sit this one out). It comes in a powder form, so you can stir it into pretty much anything to get a major protein boost that will help you kick-start your day. There’s also some preliminary evidence it can help keep your skin hydrated, improve alcohol-induced liver damage, and support joint health. Look for a brand that doesn’t change the flavor, like Further Food Collagen Peptides, so you aren’t scrunching up your nose at every sip.
5. Butter it up.
We know, we can’t believe it is butter in there, either. Buttered (a.k.a. “Bulletproof”) coffee has been making celebs, athletes, and health bloggers alike get friendlier with fats. Why? Some claim this buttery buzz gives them more energy, improves brain function, and aids in weight loss—particularly if these folks are following a ketogenic diet already.
If you decide to slide a slice into your morning joe, try using grass-fed butter, which has a higher amount of omega-3 and vitamin K than regular butter.
6. Make cafe au oats.
When the morning rush gets between us and breakfast, we become our worst selves (hangry, stuck in rush-hour traffic, staring at a giant billboard of a breakfast sandwich). But here’s a way to grab breakfast and coffee on your way out the door: Brew some caffeine-packed oats in your thermos for a delicious morning meal. Not only are you getting your energizing fix, but you’re also eating a solid breakfast because oatmeal comes packed with fiber and minerals like magnesium, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.
7. Add some ashwagandha powder.
If you’re looking to add an extra health kick to your coffee but still want it to look like, well, coffee, try sprinkling in some ashwagandha powder. You may want to combine this with some cinnamon and coconut oil since it can have a pretty strong flavor, but some people are swearing by this adaptogen trend. While it’s used heavily in Ayurvedic medicine, mainstream health connoisseurs are starting to use it more and are noticing that it may help reduce stress and possibly even increase physical stamina.
8. Get your fill of cardamom.
Cardamom has been dubbed the “queen of spices”—and it’s not just because of its rich, warm taste. In some ancient medicinal traditions, this powerful spice was used to treat everything from gum infections to tuberculosis. And while we’re not recommending you try to whip up a DIY cardamom cure for either of those, one recent study suggests the spice may have antimicrobial properties so you can fight off pesky bacteria like E. coli. And adding it to your coffee might just improve your social health, since it’s been used as a natural breath freshener and, well, coffee breath is a thing.
9. Turn up the heat.
Nope, we’re not talking temperature. If you want to spice up your morning routine, add a dash of cayenne into your morning brew. Trust us, not only will it wake up your taste buds, but it will also give you a nutrient boost early on in your day.
Cayenne has been used to manage stomach problems, lack of appetite, and circulatory issues for thousands of years in Native American medicine. Recent research shows that it may relieve pain from headaches, help digestion, and even prevent heart disease. It’s pretty much a coffee-obsessed, spicy-food lover’s dream.
Something to Sip On
Though these additions are all fun ways to sneak a little extra something into your morning, let’s face it—our pantries aren’t always stocked with collagen peptides, and we’re guessing your local barista won’t have ashwagandha powder on hand. But one thing Karman Meyer, R.D., recommends is including something most of us already plan on putting in our morning joe.
“Milk, lactose-free or not, will provide essential vitamins and minerals,” Meyer says. “By adding 1/4 cup milk to your morning joe, you’ll get 2 grams of protein, 8 percent of the daily value of calcium, and 6 percent of the daily value of vitamin D, riboflavin, and phosphorus… essential for bone health, red blood cell production, and metabolism.” So no matter where you are—or whether or not you’re fully awake—there’s a way to add a little boost to your daily cup.
Want More? Coffee Smoothie Recipes: 7 Ways to Get a Boost at Breakfast