Healthy Ingredient of the Week – Coffee

I’m often asked about the nutritional value of coffee and whether it can be part of a healthy diet. Coffee is an excellent source of phenolic acids and tannins, potent antioxidants that also have anti-inflammatory properties.  On its own, coffee is virtually calorie-free, a good source of the B vitamin riboflavin, and contains many other B vitamins as well as potassium and magnesium.  Coffee becomes less nutritious when excessive amounts of sugar and high-fat dairy products are added in; if you do choose to sweeten or lighten your coffee, stick to 1-2 tablespoons of sugar and low-fat or skim milk.  When it comes to the caffeine content of coffee, it’s all about knowing your personal tolerance.  Caffeine has few, if any, effects on most people, but if you experience heart palpitations or a jittery feeling after drinking coffee, or you have trouble sleeping at night, try cutting down your intake and refrain from consuming coffee and other caffeinated beverages after noontime.  Coffee can be consumed any time of day without these effects, however, when it’s incorporated into dishes like the one below.

Three-Bean and Coffee Chili

¼ cup olive oil
3 large onions, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup chili powder
¼ cup ground cumin
2 tablespoons dried oregano leaves
2, 28-ounce cans no-salt-added crushed tomatoes (with purée)
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup strong coffee
2, 15-ounce cans low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
2, 15-ounce cans low-sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1, 15-ounce cans low-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 roasted red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until tender, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute.
  2. Mix in chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Mix in tomatoes, honey, and coffee. Add drained beans, red pepper, chicken or veggie stock, and remaining spices. Bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 60 minutes uncovered or until mixture thickens. If mixture consistency is too thin, use a potato masher or immersion blender to smash a portion of beans to thicken the chili.
  4. Optional: Top with nonfat sour cream, chopped avocado, grated low-fat cheddar cheese, chopped green onions, or jalapeño peppers. Serves 8.

 Recipe adapted from WebMD


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