These days it’s not only Moon Juice that’s talking about functional this and functional that – it’s everywhere. Sure, a lot of it is marketing fluff, but it’s sure as heck not all – it’s about knowing what’s actually worth your time, effort and money. It’s also important to remember that something that might work for someone, won’t work for someone else. For example, I hate turmeric! I don’t care how many people swear that it helped them fight colds and inflammation, I cannot get myself to stomach it! One thing I can get behind, however, is functional coffee – and I’m not talk about the 400 calorie butter kind (seriously, I rather eat a big fat chocolate chip cookie than drink butter…). I’m talking about coffee fruit coffee, which I discovered thanks to Neuro Coffee. It’s basically regular coffee on (healthy!) steroids…no funky taste or obscene amount of calories.
“The last several years have seen an explosion in functional coffees with people trying to add foods and powders to their coffee to further leverage the health benefits of this foundational beverage.” says Megan Colletto, PhD, RD. But they’re not all created equally. Here Colletto breaks it all down.
BUTTER COFFEE: Butter coffee such as Bulletproof Coffee started as a cult practice. Biohackers would mix coconut or medium chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and grass fed butter into their coffee upon waking to support their continued fasting into the afternoon and improve mental acuity. The idea was that the fats found in coconut oil and butter would support the production of ketones – a unique byproduct of fat metabolism that your brain can use as fuel, instead of sugar. Unfortunately, research shows that coconut oil and/or butter are not effective means of producing ketones and the use of ketones by your brain doesn’t lead to increased mental performance. In addition, many people that drink butter coffee do so with breakfast or follow up their buttery cup of java with a meal shortly afterwards. Carbohydrates in just about any amount shut down your body’s ability to make ketones, leaving you with no unique fuel for your brain and just a +200 calories cup of coffee that has a high likelihood of giving you diarrhea.
BROCCO-LATTE: More recently Australian scientists of CSIRO and Hort Innovation created a broccoli powder for coffee as a means of helping people get more vegetables in their diet. Broccoli coffee is created by mixing freeze dried broccoli into a double espresso and then topping it with steamed milk. The amount of broccoli powder added to each cup equates to one serving of broccoli. Unfortunately, the broccoli coffee created by these Australian scientists is not available in the U.S. but you can try to make your own by mixing freeze dried broccoli powder into your coffee – You’ll need about 10g or 1 heaping TBSP of most dried broccoli products to get the equivalent of 1 cup/serving of fresh broccoli. Adding broccoli powder to your coffee isn’t without consequence as it can it leave you with a broccoli tasting cup of brownish green liquid which has yielded “mixed reviews” on the taste front amongst coffee drinkers.
COFFEE FRUIT COFFEE: Coffee fruit coffee like Neuro Coffee takes a different approach to improving your health through coffee by boosting BDNF, a key protein for neuron and brain health, without you even knowing it. BDNF is a neuro-super protein responsible for aiding in your body’s ability to grow new neurons and repair broken ones, helping you learn faster and remember better. It also plays a role in both warding off depression, diabetes, and heart disease and increasing resistance to neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Coffee fruit coffee is enhanced with the naturally occurring antioxidant cocktail found in coffee fruit (the fleshy portion that surrounds the coffee bean, typically discarded at harvest). There are actually two kinds of coffee fruit antioxidant blends available – one is the dried powder from the coffee fruit – found in KonaRed. The other is the purified coffee fruit antioxidant extract, which is found in Neuro Coffee, and has been clinically shown to increase BDNF levels in two human studies. Intense exercise and calorie restricted diets can also increase BDNF, but drinking coffee is more fun and easy than either of those things. As we get older, our body produces less and less BDNF, so coaxing your body into producing more is a key strategy for longevity.