Coffee or Tea? Let’s Weigh the Benefits
After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. Coffee can’t be far behind. We love our java, and our tea. But which is best for your health?
The short answer is: both. Which one is potentially bad for you? Neither—in moderation, of course. After all, even too much water can be deadly, provided you drink enough of it at once. The French writer Honoré de Balzac famously drank so much coffee—up to 40 cups of thick black brew per day— that his heart eventually gave out. Before his death the poor guy was reportedly so addicted to the java jolt that he was reduced to gobbling down spent coffee grounds. Not recommended.
But for ordinary folks, drinking up to six cups of coffee or tea daily is perfectly safe, and may even provide some significant health benefits.
Tea...Green and white teas, especially, are the most healthful forms of this calming, energizing beverage. That’s because they feature the highest concentrations of unique, beneficial compounds, such as the potent antioxidant EGCG, and an amino acid called theanine, which reduces anxiety and promotes focus and concentration.
Mounting evidence suggests that tea may prevent the development of type 1 diabetes, and provide some protection against lung cancer. Three to four cups per day has also been linked to a lower risk of heart attack, heart disease, and other cancers. Although it contains caffeine, which is commonly believed to promote dehydration by stimulating the kidneys, drinking tea is actually an excellent way to rehydrate.
Other benefits? Tea contains natural fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel, reducing cavities.
And black tea is not so bad either: One study found that people who drank black tea four times a day had lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, after six weeks. Tea really is calming! One caveat, though: Don’t add milk to your tea. Milk may prevent you from absorbing some of the most beneficial compounds in this time-honored beverage.
Check back tomorrow for my review of the benefits, and cautions, about coffee. Meanwhile, what’s your favorite kind of tea? I’d love to hear your feedback.
Larsson SC. Coffee, tea, and cocoa and risk of stroke. Stroke. 2014 Jan;45(1):309-14. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.113.003131. Epub 2013 Dec 10.
Oba S, Nagata C, et al. Consumption of coffee, green tea, oolong tea, black tea, chocolate snacks and the caffeine content in relation to risk of diabetes in Japanese men and women. Br J Nutr. 2010 Feb;103(3):453-9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114509991966. Epub 2009 Oct 12.