Start your day with a boost

Always forgetting to take your daily vitamins? Us, too. But something we never, ever forget? Our daily cup of coffee. In fact, our day doesn’t start until we’ve had it.

So why not double these activities? Add a healthy dose of vitamins, antioxidants, and nutritious benefits to your daily caffeine fix with a teaspoon of something extra in the morning. Yes, you heard us right. Try one of these six additions and brew up special vitamin coffee. The benefits are aplenty — from boosting mood and energy and protecting your heart to enhancing your sex life.

Sprinkling your morning cup o’ joe with cinnamon delivers a powerful (and delicious) dose of antioxidants. Cinnamon has been used both as a spice and medicinally for thousands of years. The spice is loaded with protective compounds (all 41 of them!) and has one of the highest antioxidant activity among spices.

According to a study on mice, cinnamon may add protection to your heart and brain. A study on human cells suggests it can lower cancer risk, too, and may also boost your immune system.

Serve: Stir 1/2 tsp. of cinnamon into your cup of coffee, or brew your coffee with 1 tsp. of cinnamon mixed right into the grounds.

Tip: Look for Ceylon cinnamon, also known as “true” cinnamon. Although this variety is slightly harder to find and a bit more expensive, it’s a much higher quality than cassia cinnamon, the lower-quality version most commonly found in the United States. Ceylon is also safer to consume regularly compared to cassia. Cassia has a higher amount of the plant compound coumarin, which is considered unsafe to consume in large amounts.

If you’re only consuming ginger in its bread version, you’re missing out on a ton of health benefits. One of the easiest ways to get said benefits? Sprinkle some into your coffee for a slightly spicy, aromatic cup.

Ginger has been a common treatment for nausea for centuries. It contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Ginger can also reduce muscle pain, lower cholesterol, and aid in digestion.

Serve: Add ginger directly to your coffee (up to 1 tsp. per cup), or ditch the calorie- and sugar-laden coffee shop version and make a healthy pumpkin spice latte at home.

Tip: Got leftover fresh ginger sitting in your fridge from stir-fry night? Finely grate it using a microplane and then freeze it in individual teaspoon servings, ready to stir into your java.

Coffee and… mushrooms? OK, hear us out. A fungi-filled brew can have some surprising benefits on your health. Mushrooms have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting qualities. Loaded with antioxidants, mushrooms have anticancer effects on mice, and other studies on mice suggest mushrooms may prevent liver disease. It may also aid in digestion due to its powerful prebiotics.

Popular mushroom coffee brand Four Sigmatic tells us that drinking mushroom coffee is beneficial for your body, filled with superfoods, and only half the caffeine. “You also skip the jitters, stomach issues, and post-caffeine crash that normal coffee gives most [people],” they say.

Tip: Not all mushroom coffee is created equal. Looking for more energy? Try Cordyceps mushrooms. For stress and sleep aid, reach for Reishi.

Serve: You can purchase your own mushroom powders (which will indicate serving size), or buy conveniently packaged mushroom coffee (and even mushroom coffee K-Cup pods!).

If you frequent health blogs, you’re probably no stranger to the infamous turmeric latte. The earthy, golden spice is a big deal for good reason. Many of its medicinal benefits come from the compound curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This antioxidant powerhouse supports liver detoxification, aids in digestion, and may even help treat depression.

Serve: Couple turmeric with healthy fats in a four-ingredient coconut-infused awakening coffee.

Tip: To boost the health benefits of turmeric, pair it with a pinch of black pepper. Pepper improves turmeric’s bioavailability, making the spice more effective in smaller doses.

Maybe you’ve seen maca powder, made from the maca root plant, available at your local health store. Maca root has been traditionally used to enhance fertility, and was shown to have hormone-balancing effects in a study on rats. The plant has also been studied to increase athletic performance, energy levels, and sex drive.

Not to mention, it’s highly nutritious. Maca contains over 20 amino acids (including eight essential amino acids), 20 free-form fatty acids, and is high in protein and vitamin C.

Serve: For maca’s optimal health benefits, 1 to 3 tsp. per day is recommended. Try making this Superfood Coffee. In addition to maca powder, it has four other superfoods from this list.

Tip: To prolong the shelf life of your maca powder, store it in the fridge.

Chocolate and coffee seem like a match made in heaven already, right? When you add in the health benefits of raw cacao powder, it gets even better. This superfood is one of the most powerful antioxidants around and the highest plant-based source of iron. It’s good for your heart, too.

Anti-inflammatory cacao lowers blood pressure, increases HDL (good) cholesterol, and lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol. Its cognitive benefits, mood-enhancing, and antidepressive qualities make cacao great for the brain, too. And did we mention it’s delicious?

Serve: World’s healthiest mocha, anyone? Stir 1 tbsp. of raw cacao into your cup of coffee for a boost in dietary fiber, antioxidants, and magnesium.

Tip: Look for organic raw cacao to get the most benefits, and learn the difference between raw cacao and cacao powder.

Since most people are encouraged to limit their coffee consumption, it makes sense to make the most of each cup. Why not spice up that morning drink?All of these suggestions have great benefits and little risk, although more research is needed on humans to understand their full effects.

Tiffany La Forge is a professional chef, recipe developer, and food writer who runs the blog Parsnips and Pastries. Her blog focuses on real food for a balanced life, seasonal recipes, and approachable health advice. When she’s not in the kitchen, Tiffany enjoys yoga, hiking, traveling, organic gardening, and hanging out with her corgi, Cocoa. Visit her at her blog or on Instagram.