Do you head to Starbucks every day? Enjoy a little coffee with your sugar? Pine for caramel mocha lattes?
Research has shown that coffee can be good for you, but if consumed in the wrong ways, it can take a toll on your dental – and overall – health. In this post, we’ll detail the ways that you can make your coffee habit healthier.
First, though, let’s talk about what can make this supposedly beneficial drink harmful.
How Coffee Can Take a Toll on Your Health
One 8-ounce cup of coffee per day is safe for most people to consume… but that also depends on how you consume it.
What do we mean?
Well, you probably know that coffee can stain your teeth. Frustrating, but there are always whitening solutions.
The problem with coffee in terms of dental health isn’t so much about the coffee itself, but rather the things far too many of us add to it. If you regularly add sugar to your daily drink, it will stay on your teeth and become food for bacteria, which turn into plaque. Over time, this plaque will build up and can lead to gum disease, cavities, and tooth loss. You’ll be racing to schedule your next dental appointment.
What about mixed coffee drinks? Mochas? Pumpkin spice lattes? You’re not adding extra sugars to those, right?
Sure, but that’s because your friendly baristas are doing it for you. Didn’t really think those sweet add-ins were free of sugars, did you?
Beyond sugar, those things also tend to add calories and fat, which can lead to problems linked to being overweight, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and other issues.
Ways to Make Coffee Healthier
The easiest way to make coffee healthier is pretty straightforward: just drink coffee. No mix-ins. No milk or cream. No sugar. Just rich, black coffee.
Thought making you cringe?
No worries. Even if you can’t quite make yourself drink your coffee black, there are still ways to make healthier choices.
Try these tips to save your teeth and improve your overall health:
Choose a smaller serving size
Are you used to getting the largest size of coffee available at your local café or drive-thru? A large coffee can have twice or three times as much added calories and sugar as the smallest size. Downsize your coffee to minimize the impact on your waistline and spare your teeth the extra sugar.
Cut back on syrup
Flavored syrups make coffee taste amazing, but they also add a huge amount of sugar. Each pump of syrup has 5 grams of sugar. If a large drink has five pumps of syrup, it has 25 grams of sugar – a woman’s total recommended amount of sugar for the entire day.
Ask your barista to use half as much syrup in your drink to cut back on sugar without sacrificing flavor.
Make a coffee date
If you can’t bear to dilute the flavor you love in your favorite drink, share it with someone else. You’ll boost your relationship while saving calories and keeping your favorite flavor.
Switch the toppings
Whipped cream adds loads of fat that you don’t need. Caramel and chocolate syrups stick to your teeth more strongly than sugar, which can easily lead to tooth decay.
You can ask for less to save on calories and sugar, as we suggested above… or you can ask for a sprinkle of nutmeg or cinnamon instead, which won’t wreak havoc on your teeth or overall health.
Skip the holiday drinks
Those pumpkin spice latte and peppermint-infused coffee drinks pack unexpected wallops of calories and sugar. These drinks may also hurt your wallet, because they come with a premium price tag. Decide to enjoy them only once per season – or skip them altogether.
Try flavored tea
You can get your caffeine boost from flavored teas instead of coffee. Every so often, try a hot tea flavored with mint, hibiscus, bergamot, orange, or other natural flavors to shake up your routine.
You may still need a bit of sugar or honey to sweeten your tea, but likely not as much as you use to cut the bitterness of coffee. You may find this switch refreshing enough to try several times per week.
Pick a cold-brewed coffee
Cold-brewed coffee takes longer to brew (and it’s more expensive), but it is far less bitter than hot-brewed coffee. You may find that you prefer the taste, and that it needs less sugar than your regular cup of coffee, making it worth the cost.
Go black… slowly
It can take time to wean yourself from a sweetened, fat-laden, fancy coffee drink. But if you cut back gradually, you may eventually be able to drink your coffee black. You will save yourself major calories if you swap black coffee for a sugary drink every day.
Pair coffee with a healthy breakfast
If you’re in the habit of drinking coffee with a carb-heavy breakfast itpem like a bagel, donut, or pastry, you aren’t doing your teeth or waistline any favors.
Sweet carbohydrates stick to teeth for hours, serving as food for bacteria. These foods are also empty calories that leave you feeling hungry again in a short amount of time.
Skip these foods and sip your coffee with lean protein and dairy, whole grains, and fruits for a healthier option.
Bottom line? You don’t have to give up coffee. You don’t even need to opt for austerity. There are, however, ways to alter your coffee-drinking habits to improve the health of your teeth and the rest of your body.