For about five calories a cup, black coffee is a great option if you’re gulping down four cups a day. But let’s be real: How many people really prefer their coffee black?
That blended peppermint mocha latte with extra whip and chocolate sauce might taste mighty good, but these specialty drinks can easily become a 400-plus-calorie dessert with 40-50 grams of sugar. FYI, that’s more than double the recommended amount of sugar per day—all in one drink. (Here are more surprising sources of sugar in your diet.)
Luckily, nutritionists agree that coffee—without all the extra bells and whistles—is just fine for a healthy diet. Here’s more info about the benefits of drinking coffee.)
To keep your java healthy (but still tasty), try these six tricks.
Skip the heavy cream. Whether you’re at the local coffee shop or fixing yourself a cup in the office breakroom, avoid cream or half-and-half. Swapping in two tablespoons of low-fat or soy milk save you major calories and they have double the calcium.
Flavor with spices. Ever notice those little cinnamon or nutmeg shakers at the sugar and milk counter? They’re not just for topping your pumpkin spice latte. Spices make a great addition to any brew, even a plain espresso, Americano, or drip coffee. If you’re making the coffee yourself, you can also add them straight to the coffee grounds before brewing (or when grinding your beans, if you’re fancy like that).
Add extracts. If you’re a big fan of vanilla lattes, try adding a little vanilla extract to your drink. Those flavored syrups at coffee shops add 80 calories and 19 grams of sugar; extract will add next to nothing (except great flavor). Vanilla and almond extracts are obvious options, but play around with your favorite flavors. Any grocery store with a solid bakery section will carry fun extracts like coconut, hazelnut, or maple.
Enjoy a plain latte. A regular latte includes about eight ounces of milk—and that counts as one serving of dairy. You should aim for two or servings a day. Here are 10 ways to add more dairy to your diet. Just ask for low-fat or soy milk, and skip the flavored syrups.
Skip the whip. This one’s fairly obvious, but that tower of whipped cream atop your latte adds 50 calories and 5 grams of fat—not to mention all the funky additives typically inside canned whipped cream.
Customize your order. Sometimes, you gotta have your caramel latte. Try asking for “one pump syrup” from your barista. Most coffee shops use three or four pumps of those flavored syrups, so you can cut your calorie and sugar counts to a third of the original by making this request.
Looking for more healthy drink options? Here’s how to keep your tea healthy.
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