The jury is still out on coffee and whether it’s good for you or not. Of course, you can’t go wrong with herbal tea, but what are the options if it doesn’t satisfy?
Maybe you’ve turned to one of the more unusual hot drinks like turmeric-flavored golden milk, fatty butter coffee or yerba mate because of their reputed health benefits. With an eye on the many health claims, here’s an overview of some on-trend hot drinks to warm up with this winter:
This spiced vegan drink is usually made with a base of coconut or almond milk and flavored with a blend of tumeric, ginger and peppercorns. Tumeric is definitely enjoying a moment as a trendy health food ingredient: Recent studies show it’s rich in antioxidants and contains curcumin, which possesses powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may help fight conditions such as arthritis or some cancers. The only downside is that such research is generally done using turmeric extracts that are ultra-concentrated. There are no direct studies proving that the small amounts you’d imbibe in tea can really impact inflammation in your body.
The ancillary benefits, though, are that it’s packed with spicy flavor and is a viable dairy-free indulgence that doesn’t rely on big doses of sugar. Try this golden milk latte recipe.
BUTTER OR COCONUT OIL COFFEE
Made by adding butter and other sources of fat, such as coconut oil, to coffee, this beverage has a creamy, almost oily, mouthfeel. It’s also typically prepared without sweetener, making it an appealing drink for those following a Paleo diet. Fans claim it provides a major lift without a subsequent caffeine slump, and that the fatty component creates satiety that leads to eating less and ultimately, weight loss.
Some claims go further, particularly as they relate to another popular butter coffee additive, MCT oil: it contains proteins similar to coconut oil and is touted as a substance that “super-fuels” the brain and burns fat. Though there aren’t any studies supporting this, if you’re intrigued, there’s no harm in trying it. However, if you eat a diet heavy on animal sources with lots of saturated fat, adding butter coffee might not be wise.
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Containing as much caffeine as coffee, yerba mate is a staple in South America. Can it replace caffeinated energy drinks or a bad double-mocha habit? That might depend on whether you can handle the flavor. The tea’s strong, haylike aroma and almost bitter wood-chip flavor are an acquired taste for many. But there are many nutritional benefits: Yerba mate is high in vitamins and contains powerful plant compounds associated with health, like quercetin. Studies have also shown it can help improve metabolic function.
In recent years, some research has turned up an association between habitually drinking huge amounts of hot yerba mate tea and a risk of esophageal or other cancers. However, the general consensus is that occasional consumption is fine. Mate is similar to green tea except for the drying method: green tea results from fast, high-temperature air drying, whereas mate tea is slowly dried, often using wood smoke.
With its brilliant ruby color, this herbal tea is high in the same antioxidants which color purple-hued fruits and vegetables. Because it’s naturally caffeine-free, you can unwind with a hot mug of hibiscus tea before bed. In cultures from India to Mexico, it has been used as traditional remedy for everything from headaches to coughs.
Scientific research shows it can have positive effects on treating high blood pressure, and studies continue to investigate claims that it can treat high cholesterol, heart disease or have other effects like decreasing appetite. Because of its natural potency, those with special conditions such as diabetes or low blood pressure may want to consult with a doctor before making hibiscus tea a serious habit, but it’s widely considered to be safe and beneficial in small amounts.