Welcoming a new day with a positive attitude is a challenge if the mornings are full of lethargy. Sleep deprivation, a lengthy to-do list and an overall lack of energy cause many people to become reliant on coffee. However, while coffee provides an immediate burst of energy, it does not have longstanding benefits. Coffee only has a limited amount of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, coffee increases urination thereby draining previously stored nutrients. Coffee addictions may seem like a solution to sluggish mornings but it is only a temporary fix. The following five foods and beverages are great natural alternatives to provide the perfect morning pick-me-up!
Maca, also known as Peruvian Ginseng or Lepidium Meyeni, is a root found in Peru. In addition to increasing energy, the powder is suggested to decrease stress, increase libido and reduce symptoms of menopause. While maca doesn’t contain any hormones itself, it provides nutrients necessary thought to support normal hormone production. Maca is rich in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium and vitamins B1, B2, C and E. Maca can either be taken as a supplement or added into smoothies or oatmeal.
Chia seeds became well known in the 1970s after the release of Chia Pets, small figurines that sprout chia to mimic animal fur. However, chia has been a known dietary supplement since the ancient Aztecs. Chia translates to “strength” in Mayan language. Aztec runners and warriors ate the seeds before lengthy runs and battles. Today, the seeds serve as a nutritional addition to oatmeal and other recipes. The seeds are rich in fiber, potassium, calcium, manganese, vitamins and omega 3 and 6. Additionally, chia seeds can store up to 9 to 10 times their weight in water. Combining chia seeds with water or coconut water can reduce dehydration, another factor known to reduce energy.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that contains 300% more protein than fish, meat and poultry. Spirulina is known to have amazing health benefits, however additional research is necessary to confirm the benefits in relation to the typical dietary intake. Spirulina is rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants, beta-carotene, omega 3 and 6 and B vitamins. The algae contains an immense amount of vitamin B12, which is a catalyst for energy production but is only found in animal products therefore it is an essential supplement for vegans and vegetarians. It can be taken in capsule or powder form to provide sustained energy.
Matcha Green Tea
Match green tea contains 70 mg caffeine per 8 fl oz in comparison to coffee’s 100mg. However, matcha is absorbed slower than coffee and therefore provides prolonged energy rather than spikes and crashes like coffee. Matcha is also rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Antioxidants help immunity function and inflammation reduction. Matcha green tea has 7x more antioxidants than regular green tea. Additionally, when comparing the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity), a measure of the potency of antioxidiants in foods and beverages, matcha contains 1384 units per gram while goji berries have 254 units per gram and acai berries have only 55 units per gram. Match tea powder is easily dissolved in water or milk or can be added into smoothies.
After stripping away the cocoa butter, milk and sugar added into chocolate, the root ingredient, cacao, is thought to be an excellent superfood. Cacao is rich in vitamin C and magnesium. Cacao is also known to create a blissful feeling due to its connection with serotonin and dopamine, two anti-depressant neurotransmitters. Cacao’s high level of antioxidants helps block low-density lipoproteins, LDLs, which are known as bad cholesterol. Therefore, cacao helps improve circulation to reduce heart disease. However, cacao benefits are only achieved if the food is at least 70% or more cacao with a low sugar content. Additionally, folks should be mindful of the quantity of the cacao they eat, as they should with any food.
By Jenna Hochman