Healthier ways to get caffeine

Photo printed with permission form J. Kopec: Consider replacing your cup of coffee with a cup of tea that can provide more health benefits.

College students are experts on caffeine. From late night cramming to waking up for classes before 9 a.m., it’s not rare to see a student with a coffee in hand and bags under their eyes. Unfortunately, caffeine may not be the easiest addiction to cut. In honor of National Caffeine Awareness month, here are some tips on how to get your caffeine fix the healthy way.

Avoid added calories

Some people don’t like the taste of coffee, but love the kick. To mask the flavor, don’t add in gobs of syrups and tons of cream, even if it gets you through the morning. According to their website, a grande caffe mocha from Starbucks with whipped cream and 2 percent milk will set you back 360 calories — most of which coming from saturated fats, carbs and added sugars. Meanwhile, a grande java chip frappuccino with whole milk and whipped cream has 470 calories, with 60 percent of the recommended daily value of saturated fat and 66 grams of sugar. Rather than opting for sugary dessert-drinks like these, try getting a plain iced coffee with a pump or two of sweetener if necessary.

Crush those cans

Like sweet coffee drinks, sodas can be an unhealthy source of caffeine. One 12 ounce can of Coca-Cola is 140 calories, with 39 grams of added sugars. With 34 milligram of caffeine per 12 ounce can, it can be hard to cut out Coke. Rather than throwing back a can whenever you need a pick-me-up, try finding a different source of caffeine besides a load of carbonated sugar. If you’re not ready to kick the cans completely, then at least try to cut back on what you’re drinking. Coca-Cola recently launched a line of smaller soda cans which would allow you to get in a little caffeine without as many unneeded sugars. You could also split your soda with a friend.

Diet isn’t always better

Since a regular Coca-Cola has a lot of calories and sugar, one could think that maybe a zero calorie, diet version would be a better option? Not necessarily. Although diet sodas might be tempting because of the reduced calories and zero sugar, they might be doing you more harm than good. According to The American Cancer Society, high doses of aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in many diet sodas, may increase the risk of some blood-related cancers. If you want the bubbly mouth-feel of sodas without the added sugar or potentially dangerous sweeteners, consider trying a sparkling water like La Croix.

Brew a cup of tea

Even though it may not have the same punch as a venti latte, a cup of tea can wake you up a bit in the mornings as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, an 8 ounce cup of brewed black tea can have 25-48 milligrams of caffeine, whereas an 8 ounce cup of coffee has 95-165. Even though tea has significantly less caffeine than a cup of joe, tea has some other health benefits that might be worth pursuing. The beverage contains antioxidants, which can help the body protect itself from pollution, In addition, an article by Today explains that tea may even lower your risk for heart attack or stroke. So even though it’s a step down on the caffeine ranking, it’s certainly a step up for your overall health.