Dana Carpender Asks “How About A Hot Cup Of Coffee?” on Your Low-Carb Diet

Brrrrr. Chilly. How about a hot cup of coffee on your low-carb diet?

Americans have long chosen coffee over tea, some say as a result of the British tax on tea that led to the Boston Tea Party. But in the past twenty years coffee has gone from national habit to national obsession. Is all this coffee good for us or bad for us? Depends. (Don’t you love a definite answer?)

For years, the nutrition-conscious frowned on coffee. After all, coffee contains caffeine, often referred to derisively as an “artificial stimulant,” though what’s artificial about it I have yet to figure out. Sometimes it seems our puritanical streak tells us anything enjoyable must be bad for us. Yet we’ve learned that tea, chocolate, and even alcohol have health benefits when consumed in moderation. How about coffee?

Health Benefits of Coffee

  • Coffee is the single greatest source of antioxidants in the American diet. This says terrific things about coffee, but also points to distressingly low fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • A fourteen year Finnish study of elderly coffee drinkers found that the more coffee subjects drank, the less likely they were to die. Coffee drinkers had fewer deaths from heart disease, cancer, and other causes.
  • Research indicates a 50% lower rate of liver cancer among coffee drinkers, and some studies show lower rates of breast, colon, and prostate cancer, as well.
  • Men who drink coffee have a lower rate of Parkinson’s disease than those who don’t drink the stuff. This protective effect does not appear to extend to women, for reasons which are still unclear.

Possible Health Concerns About Coffee

  • Coffee and blood sugar? Up in the air. Studies show that caffeine increases insulin levels in the blood, which suggests a temporary increase in insulin resistance. Yet coffee drinkers have lower rates of type 2 diabetes, apparently due to some of the other constituents in the brew. If you’re really concerned, you could stick to decaf – but really, skipping the donut is a lot more important.
  • Does coffee raise blood pressure and increase your risk of heart disease? The Harvard Health Letter calls the test results a “mixed bag.” Again, most of us have more important things to worry about, like avoiding trans fats and refined carbs, and getting a little exercise.

Dana Prefers Tea to Coffee

In the interests of full disclosure, I’ll state that I am not a coffee drinker, but rather a tea addict. From that perspective, I have to say that I am bemused by the sums people are willing to pay for a cup of coffee. You know that old saying “That and a quarter will get you a cup of coffee?” Around here we say “That and three bucks will get you a cup of Starbuck’s coffee.”

Of greater concern to me than your wallet is your health. The proliferation of coffee shops has brought with it a wide array of heavily sugared, often highly caloric beverages that cannot claim the health benefits of a simple cup of coffee. Do not read anything here as meaning that a frozen mochaccino habit will do anything but put weight on you.

That being said, most coffee places carry sugar-free syrups as well as the sugary kind. If you’d like to make coffee drinks yourself—much cheaper!—these syrups can be purchased to use at home, and keep forever. Check your local coffee bar or gourmet food shops, or order DaVinci sugarfree syrups from CarbSmart.com.

As for the “cream versus skim milk” debate, I have no strong opinion. Just please, for the love of all that is holy (and nutritious), stay away from “non-dairy creamer.” The stuff is pure nutritional garbage, full of trans fats, and often corn syrup. And “fat-free half-and-half” always has me wondering “half milk and half what?” Turns out the other half is corn syrup and chemicals. Ugh. Use real half-and-half.

Dana Carpender’s Low-Carb Irish Coffee Recipe

Dana Carpender's Low-Carb Irish Coffee Recipe
By FrettieOwn work, CC BY 3.0, Image Link

Also: Fat Fast Coffee with Heavy Cream recipe

Fat Fast Coffee with Heavy Cream Recipe

© 2009 by Dana Carpender. Used by kind permission of the highly-caffeinated author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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So how are those Low-Carb New Year's resolutions coming? I'd like to add one to them if you don't mind. Be patient. Remember Things Take Time. Impatience is the death of most diet and exercise regimens, whether undertaken for the new year or at any other time. In our podcast, Dana Carpender examines the expectations of Low-Carb Resolutions and how to turn them into Low-Carb Reality.


  1. It is now 2017. I have to say that I now do have an opinion on cream versus skim milk: Use the cream.

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