Best coffee alternatives to slash your caffeine intake

Considering cutting back on coffee? Perk yourself up with these substitutes, which have similar health benefits minus the caffeine. 

If you’re looking to re-evaluate your relationship with your morning brew, there are plenty of coffee alternatives available.

The pros and cons of coffee

Nutritionist, naturopath and registered nurse Madeline Calfas says there are plenty of reasons to hit up your local barista for a cuppa – from boosting metabolism and mood to improved cognitive function.

“Coffee contains niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, and potassium, as well as a variety of antioxidants – also known as phenols – that all offer a wide variety of health benefits,” Madeline says.

“Phenols are known to act as free radical scavengers and can help to protect the body against the damage that is caused by free radicals, the most commonly known one being inflammation.

Inflammation is the driver behind many diseases, including metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disorders, hormone imbalance, insomnia, acne and psoriasis, to name a few.”

So could coffee be the next superfood? Not quite.

Despite having some health benefits, consuming too much of the good stuff can lead to disrupted sleep, anxiety, nausea and heart palpitations.

Naturopath and clinical nutritionist Michaela Sparrow recommends a maximum of two cups a day.

“If you have any hormonal issues or adrenal dysfunction or experiencing chronic stress then avoiding coffee altogether is recommended,” Michaela says.

What are the best alternatives to coffee?

If you’re looking to cut back on how much coffee you drink, the following options come with a solid set of health benefits of their own.

Matcha tea

Michaela says a type of green tea made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, matcha delivers the powerful energy kick of coffee but also has a high antioxidant content, which supports healthy liver detoxification.

“It also contains compounds to improve focus, concentration and help reduce anxiety,” she says.

Chai tea

Made with a combination of spices such as cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, star anise and black tea, this traditional Indian drink is also served as a caffeine-free variety and in some cases, may have vanilla and honey added to the mix.

“Each of these spices have their own health benefits, ranging from cardiovascular improvements, to helping to reduce LDL cholesterol and reduce inflammation within the body,” Madeline says.

Just remember that these health benefits tend to apply to chai tea, rather than chai lattes, she adds. “Chai latte preparations are often made with quite a lot of refined sugar, which promotes more inflammation than reduces it.”

Dandelion root tea

Michaela says this tea, made from the root of the dandelion plant, is considered the closest-tasting coffee alternative.

“This has been used for centuries in herbal medicine for liver and kidney support,” she says.

Research suggests that the dandelion plant contains natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, which can help prevent illness and disease.

Chicory root

A flowering plant from the dandelion family, its roots (naturally caffeine-free) are roasted, ground and brewed to produce a beverage, which is quite similar in taste to coffee.

“Chicory root is high in insulin, a non-digestible carbohydrate that also acts as a prebiotic and promotes optimal gut health,” Madeline says.

“Chicory can help regulate your blood sugar levels and has also been shown to help regulate appetite.”

Lemon water

Fancy a caffeine-free vitamin C boost?

Squeezing half a lemon into a glass of hot water could be exactly what the doctor ordered.

“This drink is often used to stimulate the digestive system before you eat,” Madeline says.

“This helps your body to break down foods more efficiently, which means less indigestion and reflux, and better absorption of nutrients.”

Consider also switching to green, white or black tea, which all pack a punch by way of antioxidants, yet can be purchased for next to nix.

Written by Dilvin Yasa.