Lately, it seems as if I read almost every week about a new study extolling the health benefits of coffee or tea. How can you cut through the clutter and decide which drink is best?
The short answer is that both coffee and tea have benefits and drawbacks. And much of the decision boils down to taste.
Making the Case for Coffee
Some of the recent research is telling us that coffee:
- May cut the chance of developing Type 2 diabetes if you drink at least 3 cups a day.
- Has more caffeine than tea. Too much can spark anxiety, sleep problems or short-term spike in blood pressure.
- Can cause heartburn because of high acid levels.
- May reduce the chance of death from some diseases, according to this recent study.
- Contains antioxidants that may help protect against diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and some types of cancer.
- Elevates cholesterol levels slightly if brewed without a filter.
Tea for You?
Green tea seems to offer more healthful benefits than black tea. Green tea:
- Contains catechins, phytochemicals that are high in antioxidants and may fight inflammation and hardening of blood vessels.
- May lower age-related dementia and stroke risks.
- Can mean stronger bones and less chance of osteoporosis.
- May cut chance of breast and ovarian cancer and heart disease.
- Interferes with iron absorption from vegetables.
- Has less caffeine than coffee.
Take Your Pick
One recent study says both coffee and tea can help reduce the risk of several health problems, including heart disease. No matter which you choose, remember to:
- Watch your caffeine intake and avoid caffeine four to six hours before bedtime.
- Steer clear of sugar, artificial sweeteners and other high-calorie additions. If you need a little flavor, try unsweetened fruit juice or mint in tea and spices such as cinnamon in coffee.
- Get enough sleep so you’re not using caffeine as a crutch to get through the day.
You shouldn’t look at either coffee or tea as “health drinks.” They’re fine in moderation, but be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day and eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Take your pick – or sample both. Drink up!
Do you like coffee or tea? How many cups do you drink a day?
Dr. Benafsha Irani is a board-certified Family Medicine physician who cares for patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic – Clear Lake. Her interests include adult medicine, children’s health, women’s health and preventive medicine.