Coffee is a beverage that is popular in many parts of the world. Whether you…
The Mediterranean diet has always been popular because of its health benefits. It was hailed as the best diet in 2023 for weight loss due to its focus on eating healthy, unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, and seafood. At the same time, it’s not restrictive: you can still occasionally eat foods like red meat and dairy.
That’s great news for coffee lovers—your favorite caffeinated beverage also has a place in the Mediterranean diet. Here’s what you need to know about the Mediterranean diet, how coffee fits in, and ways to merge the two for better health:
With an emphasis on unprocessed foods, you’ll eat more antioxidant-rich meals that can help you fight cell-damaging free radicals in the body. You’ll increase your consumption of fiber through fruits and vegetables, which can aid weight management by helping you feel full for longer. The olive oil in this diet also means you’ll cut down on cholesterol that can block blood flow in the arteries. A 2023 study from the journal Neurology adds that the diet also reduced beta-amyloid loads in the brain, preventing cognitive decline.
Given all these benefits, the Mediterranean diet is recommended for several health conditions. It’s advised for diabetes due to its low glycemic index, which means it’s less likely to cause blood sugar spikes that exacerbate the disease. Similarly, this diet can help manage polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes metabolic changes and blood sugar spikes that lead to health-endangering conditions like obesity. Since the best diet for PCOS weight loss is one that controls blood sugar, the Mediterranean diet is very effective. Aside from limiting sugar intake, it’s rich in protein and fiber that prevent overeating and slow down sugar absorption into the blood.
Those at risk of hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks may also be recommended this diet: its low-fat and low-sodium foods can help regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Older adults can benefit, too. Beta-amyloids are responsible for many Alzheimer’s symptoms, and seniors may be asked to follow the Mediterranean diet to slow its progression.
Coffee is rich in antioxidants. Cafestol controls bile acid and limits brain inflammation. Chlorogenic acid has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. The types of coffee with the most antioxidants include those with a very dark roast, while the Aeropress method works best to retain them after brewing.
Combined with the Mediterranean diet, such coffee can boost the amount of antioxidants you consume to encourage overall health and wellness. Here are a few ways you can drink it on this meal plan.
Previously, researchers believed that adding milk to coffee decreased its antioxidant activity—mainly due to detrimental interactions between milk proteins and the phenolic compounds in coffee. However, more recent studies on acids in coffee reveal that milk can actually help increase its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Since the Mediterranean diet only recommends occasional dairy consumption, though, consider using plant-based and lactose-free alternatives like almond and soy milk. Those looking to prevent or manage a health condition may especially prefer the added protein in soy milk to help boost the immune system. This choice can be beneficial for people like cancer patients who have just undergone chemotherapy.
Sweeteners are a regular addition to coffee. However, using too much can cancel out the benefits of the Mediterranean diet. For example, it can increase your risk of developing or exacerbating diabetes and PCOS by increasing blood sugar levels.
It’s, therefore, best to gradually reduce how much sugar you use. You can start with the American Heart Association’s guidelines and limit sugar intake to 24 grams per day for women and 36 grams per day for men. From there, you can use natural sweeteners like stevia for the occasional sweet coffee.
You can add spices instead of milk or sugar to your coffee—not just for the flavor but for additional health benefits. Take a look at how individuals on a keto diet may drink Turkish coffee to increase ketone production. Since adding sugar defeats the diet’s purpose, they’re also advised to add spices like cardamom.
Likewise, you can add cinnamon or unsweetened cocoa to your coffee for additional Christmas-y and mocha-like notes. You’ll also get more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can boost the benefits of coffee and the Mediterranean diet.
Drinking coffee brings many health benefits, especially when combined with a Mediterranean diet. Remember the tips above to boost the advantages of this caffeinated beverage!