Many people love coffee. In fact, Americans alone spend $40 billion on coffee annually. Coffee drinkers enjoy the taste and the caffeine boost the drink contains. Though coffee in moderation can be healthy, some people may want to cut back their consumption for a variety of reasons, including anxiety, insomnia and dental problems. As an alternative to a morning cup of coffee, you might want to try one of these five natural drinks that provide similar energy boosts.
Words: Kate Harveston
1. Chicory Coffee
People looking for the flavor of coffee without the caffeine might try a cup of chicory coffee. Brewed using roasted chicory root, this beverage has been a popular coffee substitute since the 1800s. It tastes like an old-fashioned cup of coffee but provides alternative health benefits, unlike caffeine.
In its raw form, chicory root contains inulin, a prebiotic that provides food for beneficial gut bacteria. Insulin may help these bacteria grow, leading to improved digestion, immunity and health in general. Additionally, chicory also contains nutrients like manganese and vitamin B6.
Though chicory coffee contains these nutrients in less concentration than the root itself, it can provide a healthful alternative to coffee. Most people can drink chicory coffee without any adverse side effects, although people who are pregnant or have certain allergies may need to avoid it.
2. Green Tea
Though green tea doesn't taste like coffee, it provides a modest caffeine kick — the average eight-ounce cup of brewed green tea delivers between 25 and 29 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 95 or more in a cup of brewed coffee — along with some distinct health benefits.
Many steer clear of coffee due to its known negative effects on your teeth. Green tea, on the other hand, contains bacteria-fighting polyphenols, which can help keep teeth strong! One of these polyphenols, a catechin called ECGG may help prevent heart disease and diabetes, but more research is needed.
You can drink two forms of green tea — brewed or matcha. Because matcha tea is made by dissolving ground tea leaves into hot water rather than removing them, it may contain more benefits. Even so, you should pick whichever version you prefer.
3. Yerba Mate
This South American drink provides the same energy boost as coffee, but without the jitters. Though yerba mate usually contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee, its additional active compounds, vitamins and antioxidants make it a compelling alternative.
In addition to boosting energy and focus like other caffeinated drinks, animal studies suggest that mate tea may also temporarily improve cognition, including long- and short-term memory and learning.
Though we need more research on mate to understand its full effects, you can safely enjoy mate tea as a substitute for your morning coffee.
4. Chai Tea
In the west, Chai tea refers to a certain kind of spicy black tea originating in India. Like all black teas, chai contains a small amount of caffeine. However, its most notable health properties come from its other ingredients, including cinnamon and ginger.
Some research indicates that cinnamon may have positive effects on heart health, including lowering fasting blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Meanwhile, ginger has a strong reputation for reducing nausea. Other spices in chai may have benefits we don't know about yet, as well.
Because chai contains significantly less caffeine than coffee, it could make a good alternative for people wishing to cut back on caffeine consumption. However, people should be mindful of the amount of sugar in chai drinks, which are often heavily sweetened.
5. Lemon Water
Sometimes, the best cure for low energy is hydration. You may notice fatigue as a symptom of dehydration even before thirst. To maintain energy levels all day long, it's important to drink plenty of water.
Though a cup of warm lemon water may not satisfy a strong coffee craving, it can make an enjoyable substitute for that second or third afternoon cup.
Try Something New
Many people love the flavor of coffee and the energy boost it gives. However, there are plenty of reasons to cut back coffee consumption, as substitutes can provide similar energy boosts alongside other health benefits. If you're looking for a new favorite drink, consider giving one of these options a try.