A cup of coffee is a lifeline for many, be it the first thing in the morning when you’re still rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, or several cups late at night when you really need to finish a report or a project and just can’t keep your eyes open. While caffeine has been the answer to many a desperate cry for energy and wakefulness, its effects on one’s health have often been called into question. Therefore, to combat the harmful effects of caffeine, without doing away with coffee entirely, herbal coffee has now come into being.
What’s Herbal Coffee?
Known as an alternative to regular coffee, herbal coffee combines different spices, varieties of fruit and nuts to provide coffee without the caffeine, hence making it a healthier beverage. Some herbal coffees may also have nutrients such as fibre as well as potassium. Some may also be gluten-free, which makes them ideal for people who are on special diets, or who cannot drink caffeinated beverages for some or the other reason.
What about Flavour?
No matter how nutritious herbal coffee might claim to be, caffeine aficionados need their kick that comes from the deep aroma and distinctive flavour that coffee provides. Also, it is best drunk without milk or sugar, so one can’t really dilute the ‘healthy taste’ that way. Some herbal coffee manufacturers therefore use caffeine flavouring from real coffee to add the aroma and taste. Apart from this, herbs, spices, vanilla, chicory and other elements are used to spice up herbal coffee.
Caffeine and Good Health
Regular coffee is viewed as the ultimate pick-me-up. Caffeine boosts our adrenaline glands and releases opiates from the brain. This contributes to a short-lived feeling of energy and exhilaration. The danger comes from the fact that the effects of caffeine wear off, which leads to a crash in the body. The adrenal glands, which were initially revved up and raring to go, are suddenly depressed. Caffeine also speeds up heart rate by up to 15%, then slows it down again. All of these sudden, extreme ups and downs can lead to uncontrollable shaking of the hands, depression, irritability and impairment of the nervous system. This is where herbal coffee plays its part as the anti-caffeine coffee.
- Cell Fight: A lot of herbal coffees contain fruit and beneficial herbs such as almonds, figs, dates and others. It is said to have anti-oxidants that fight harmful cells growing in our bodies, which could later lead to fatal diseases such as cancer.
- Keeping you Young: Herbal coffee is also thought to slow down the ageing process and soothe the body naturally rather than superficially exciting it as regular coffee does.
- Memory Loss: Illnesses such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease could, in some cases, be slowed down by consuming herbal coffee. It is said to improve the cognitive functioning of the brain, slowing down memory loss and other age-related problems.
- Heart Problems: Caffeine’s sudden upping of the heart rate can lead to heart diseases and even hypertension. Herbal coffee regulates the heart and has an overall calming effect on the nervous system
- Appetite: Caffeine has been found to raise appetite levels, making you far more prone to snacking between meals or binge eating. Herbal coffee keeps your appetite at its normal pace, aids in weight loss and helps you digest your food better.
Quitting coffee, or indeed any form of caffeine is never easy. Some people experience withdrawal for several weeks and sometimes dive back desperately into the nearest coffee shop. If you’re switching to herbal coffee, it is better to do it gradually. For instance, if you’re on four cups of regular coffee a day, bring it down to two cups for a week, then a single cup for the next week. Let go of it slowly and look for interesting flavours in herbal coffees so your taste buds don’t bore easily and start craving ‘real’ coffee.