To some, coffee is somewhat of a life source – a morning cup of courage – to take on all that the day throws at us. For others, a simple cup of the tea variety is just what the doctor ordered – a light jolt of caffeine without the royal roasted flavor the morning brew has to offer. While both have proven to give drinkers an edge in preventing and/or managing common health issues, we can’t help but wonder, is one better for your health? Before we can decide, let’s break it down.
Despite an obvious distinction in taste, one thing’s for sure: coffee is king of caffeine. For example, while there’s no difference between the caffeine found in both drinks, tea has a lot less of it. While a good cup of Joe could run you 100 mg, 200, or even 300 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea is packing anywhere from 20-60 mg.
Of course, like anything containing caffeine, too much may result in conditions like increased anxiety, tachycardia, heart palpitations, insomnia, irritability, restlessness, nausea, bad cholesterol and brittle bones. But, before we create a frenzy, let’s take a look at the believed benefits.
According to researchers, coffee may reduce the occurrence of Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and even soothe asthma by relaxing the lung’s airways. Other studies suggest that caffeine helps constrict blood cells in the brain, reducing migraines, and at times curing hangovers.
Tea, on the other hand, is loaded with antioxidants and potential cancer-fighting agents, aka polyphenol compounds, says the National Cancer Institute at the NIH.
The ancient beverage is also widely considered a medicinal drink with both soothing and rejuvenating qualities, all dependent on the tea’s polyphenols content — a group of plant chemicals believed to be involved in health benefits. It’s important to note that teas with the highest levels of polyphenols are believed to be brewed, not bottled (or served at your local McDonald’s).
Take green tea and black tea for instance – both of which contain free radicals that might protect cells from DNA damage. Green tea is also said to kick-start the metabolism, allowing you to shed some unwanted pounds.
On the flip side, high amounts of unfiltered coffee have been linked to higher levels of “bad” cholesterol. Still, tea contains fluoride – normally good for your dental health — yet too much can cause osteofluorosis — a bone disease caused by excessive fluoride buildup, which may cause sporadic pain, arthritic symptoms, and cancellous bones.
pretty neutral — meaning it didn’t cause any serious health problems, nor deliver any specific health benefits.
In spite of it all, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that you’re better off skipping the sugary syrups and calorie-packed creamer than fretting over whether coffee trumps tea — or vice versa. From what we can tell, both pick-me-ups offer a variety of fuzzy cons and benefits, but, for the most part, are harmless – in moderation. After all, people have been enjoying their morning concoctions for thousands of years.