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Nutrition

‘Super’ coffees - how to boost your morning brew

January 7th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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If you’re looking for more than just a quick energy boost from your coffee, add-ons like collagen, maca root powder and medicinal mushrooms could help curb your curiosity

How to do you take your coffee in the morning? A teaspoon of sugar or even a lump of butter perhaps? The early energy booster of many, we each have our go-to ways for getting the best out of our brews however, many of us are becoming increasingly more creative with our cuppas by swapping sugar and a splash of milk for a sprinkling of ‘superfoods’ and other interesting extras instead.

Saves for ‘healthy coffees’ on Pinterest are up by a whopping 218%, with wider benefits and a longer-lasting energy boost rather than a ‘crash and burn’ caffeine kick piquing the interests of many (particularly younger millennial coffee drinkers*). It’s a trend that's gathered momentum in recent years following the buzz surrounding high-fat coffee - a method of preparation that involves adding grass-fed butter, ghee, coconut oil or MCT oil (medium chain triglyceride) to your morning mug for a performance enhancing boost. Popularised by Bulletproof coffee, the Paleo-friendly technique is commonly used by those doing intermittent fasting as a useful way to extend an overnight fast and maintain the body’s fat-burning state by encouraging it to continue using fat rather than carbohydrates as fuel.

However, while the trend to ‘pimp’ our coffee is picking up pace, there’s a lot to be said for the health benefits of coffee in its pure form. Interestingly, a recent study carried out by Imperial College London and the International Agency for Research on Cancer found that coffee drinkers could live longer than non-coffee drinkers suggesting, that if part of an otherwise healthy lifestyle, it could provide more far-reaching benefits than a quick energy boost. “Coffee in itself isn’t ‘unhealthy’,” says nutritional therapist Eve Kalinik. “In fact, far to the contrary, since it provides a good source of antioxidant polyphenols and fibre that helps to support gut health. Obviously though, if you drink a lot and are sensitive to caffeine then you may have to pass.” In her opinion, the same benefits stand whether it’s in its instant form (as in dried) or fresh from beans however, taste and flavour do tend to be better in the latter and there are some who might argue antioxidants are higher too.

With this in mind, there’s no huge need to part ways from your regular cuppa just yet - but if you’re craving something that could help reduce Java-induced jitteriness for example, a protein fix or a way to boost your Bulletproof coffee, there are some add-ons of interest to help curb your curiosity. Here are the ones to watch.

1. Medicinal mushrooms

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With their roots in ancient Chinese and ayurvedic medicine, adaptogenic herbs and ingredients are still being used today as a way of fighting fatigue. “The addition of cordyceps (a type of medicinal mushroom) to coffee is rather interesting and can help reduce the jittery effects of coffee,” says Eve. “It helps to balance and manage the release of cortisol that supports many processes in the body including the stress response.” Her go-to is Four Sigmatic Mushroom Coffee Mix, £8.75, which can be drunk with or without milk. Taste-wise, expect it be a little more ‘earthy’ than your usual cup, and due to the fact that it doesn’t cause cortisol levels to spike as much as regular caffeinated coffee, it won’t be as detrimental to sleep if drunk later on in the day.

2. Collagen

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“Not only is it a protein fix, but it can also help skin, joints and digestive health,” says nutritional therapist Daniel O’Shaughnessy. “It also helps balance blood sugar and prevent spikes,” he adds which can be useful in counteracting feelings of overstimulation or the inevitable slump that can occur after drinking regular coffee (cinnamon is also great in this regard). Daniel recommends Great Lakes Gelatin Co. Collagen Hydrolysate, £25.49, which our Editor Victoria Woodhall has been putting to the test. Tasteless and easy to stir in, it contains a hydrolyzed form of collagen which can be easily absorbed by the digestive tract. Planet Paleo Pure Collagen, £24, and Bulletproof Upgraded Collagen are also two of Daniel’s top picks. A 10g serving of collagen also works well as a joint and gut health boosting addition to a cup of Bulletproof coffee too.

3. Maca root powder

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Another adaptogen, this Peruvian herb’s recent surge in popularity stems from its abilities to boost energy in both the short and long term. Daniel recommends adding it to either freshly brewed coffee or again, high-fat coffee, to help support the adrenal glands and regulate cortisol levels. Providing slow-releasing energy, some studies have shown that it can help with endurance-type sports such as cycling, improve cognitive function and even help with depression. Sevenhills Wholefoods Organic Raw Maca Powder, £8.99, is a favourite of Daniel’s and is Soil Association certified.

4. Vitamin Coffee

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One of the newest brews on the block, this subscription box service delivers a serving of caffeine, vitamins and minerals in one fell swoop. Comprising of three blends of roasted beans sourced from Asia, Africa and Central America, the three variations from the line each address a specific concern. ‘Defence’ contains a dose of vitamins C and D to help boost immunity, ‘Energy’ contains extra caffeine in addition to B vitamins for those in need a morning workout pick-me-up and ‘Complete’ contains 14 different vitamins and minerals to act as the all-rounder of the group. Coming in at £8.95 for 14 servings and with mild medium and strong dark roasts to choose from, it provides a fresh take on the concept of convenience coffees.

5. Get Nourished Iced Coffees

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High protein and lactose-free, these soon-to-be launched iced coffees by Get Nourished from Holland & Barrett aim to provide a post-workout pick-me-up without the chalky aftertaste. Set to arrive in late January 2018, they provide a sizeable serving of protein (25g of lactose-free protein per bottle) at a low cost (just £2.99). Made with 100% Arabica coffee and available in three different flavours - vanilla, coconut and hazelnut - we can certainly vouch for their taste.

*Mintel February 2016 insight.

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