Native to South Africa, rooibos means "red bush" in the Afrikaans language. This fruity and slightly sweet tea often sold in either loose-leaf or bag form only takes 10 minutes to steep in hot water.
Rooibos also boasts a lower tannin content compared to coffee and tea. While tannins possess antioxidant properties, they also inhibit the amount of iron a person can absorb.
Chicory can be ground, roasted and brewed as it is similar to coffee in taste and smell. Two tablespoons of roasted chicory root grounds added to six ounces of hot water can stand in for a regular cup of coffee, minus the caffeine.
Chicory contains inulin, a soluble fiber that promotes healthy digestion. One 2015 study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine even found that it can address hyperglycemia – an excess amount of glucose in the bloodstream.
The naturally sweet carob has a taste and texture similar to chocolate; it also provides an energizing feeling similar to when people eat a chocolate bar. Often sold in either powder or syrup form, carob joins the list of ideal coffee substitutes given these properties.
Carob contains minerals and the compound pinitol, which are reportedly responsible for its energizing properties. It also contains cancer-fighting antioxidants and even inhibits the formation of harmful bacteria.
Maca is a vegetable that belongs to the same family as broccoli, kale and cabbage. Mainly sourced from the Andes mountains in central Peru, it is often sold in powder form.
According to a study published October 2011 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, maca was found to reduce depression and anxiety. Moreover, the same study also noted that maca helped improved athletic performance.
Ginseng is widely popular in East Asia, and has been cultivated there for more than 2,000 years. In the modern era, it is used as an ingredient in many energy drinks due to its reputation as an energy booster.
Ginseng is popular in East Asian medicine due to its natural ability to boost energy, combat fatigue and promote a sense of vitality. However, anyone wishing to try ginseng as a tea or a supplement in place of coffee should read the product instructions carefully to ensure the correct dosage.
Caffeine occurs naturally in many plants such as coffee beans, cocoa beans and tea leaves. However, too much of something is bad as the adage says – and caffeine is no exception. Some of the effects of too much caffeine include anxiety, headaches, tremors, difficulty sleeping, increased blood pressure and heightened heart rate.
Moreover, regular consumption of coffee could also lead to reduced iron levels in the blood – due to the tannin present in coffee. This could result in iron-deficiency anemia. (Related: 5 Caffeine FACTS and 5 caffeine MYTHS.)
Many people have admitted to craving the energy-boosting effect that coffee can bring whenever they feel tired or sluggish. Over time, they eventually become dependent on the quick boost from caffeine. But regular coffee drinkers should be wary that they may suddenly experience caffeine withdrawal symptoms the moment they cut down on their regular coffee consumption or go cold turkey altogether.
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