Tea Vs Coffee?
Tea vs. Coffee: health benefits and caffeine
Tea is the world’s second most commonly consumed beverage (after water) and 77% of the adults in the UK consume it nowadays. Coffee is also incredibly popular, with an estimated 95 million cups enjoyed by Britons every day. But what are the health benefits of tea and coffee? And what about caffeine content in tea? Does caffeine cause addiction?
The wide appreciation of coffee makes it an attractive topic for scientific research, although tea is also gaining interest. In this post, we present a review of the health benefits and caffeine content of both tea and coffee. Let’s start with the common benefits:
Both tea and coffee are good sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants play a big role in preserving our long-term health: they help us fight free radicals, harmful substances generated by our bodies in reaction to, for example, too much sun or pollution, and linked to heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Antioxidants in tea are in the form of flavonoids, while coffee contains polyphenols, which also have anti-inflammatory properties and are associated with reduced risk of developing type II diabetes, cardio-vascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and certain cancers.
Tea and coffee can also contribute to the recommended fluid intake, despite the common belief that they are dehydrating. In the UK, people on average get 40% of their daily water intake from tea. Although coffee may have some short-term diuretic effects due to caffeine, it still contains 95% of water. Hence, moderate consumption can actually help you keep hydrated.
Moreover, research found that drinking up to four cups of tea every day may decrease the risk of diabetes. This would be due to polyphenols, naturally present in tea and beneficial to blood glucose control. Coffee, on the other hand, may be linked to reduced risk of developing type II diabetes.
Let’s now talk about caffeine. Tea contains about half as much caffeine as coffee (50mg on average) and studies show that beverages containing both caffeine and L-theanine may have a positive impact on cognitive attention. There has also been a great deal of research on coffee, especially on its effect on mental health. Drinking a cup of coffee every four hours was associated with improved mood and reaction time, and caffeine may be a relief and prevention from symptoms of depression. Scientists also found a negative correlation between coffee consumption and risk of strokes, particularly in women., as well as positively effects on psychological age-related cognitive decline (again especially in women and people over 80) and Parkinson’s Disease. Last, physical performance in sports may benefit from caffeine intake, both for high-intensity and endurance exercise, due to a reduction in muscle pain.
What about caffeine addiction? There is no evidence that caffeine causes dependence. Caffeine withdrawal may be experienced by some regular coffee drinkers, but symptoms generally don’t last long and can be prevented by an incremental reduction in caffeine intake.
Yet, despite all the positive effects of caffeine, it should be consumed in moderation, especially by pregnant and breastfeeding women, who should stick to maximum 200mg daily. Caffeine intake should also be reduced if it causes anxiety and/or poor quality of sleep.
Does coffee have some extra benefits? Definitely. Research found that 1-3 cups of coffee every day may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other conditions linked to cardio-vascular diseases. Indeed, a moderate coffee intake was significantly related to lower risk of all-cause mortality, and particularly to digestive disease. Coffee may also decrease the risk of liver pathologies such as chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and fibrosis.
But before you quit you daily cup of tea for espresso, here are some unique benefits of tea. In fact, it used to be used as a medicine before becoming a popular drink. Tea was found to have positive effects on bone and teeth health thanks to its fluoride content. The ideal amount of tea one should drink to reach the recommended daily intake of this mineral would be 4-5 cups (1-2 cups for children between 4 and 10). Speaking of minerals, tea also supplies manganese (for bone growth) and potassium (balancing fluid levels in our bodies).
To conclude, research has shown that both tea and coffee can positively affect the health of our body and mind when consumed regularly and in moderation. Maybe now you will pay more attention and start noticing you feel better after sipping your favorite beverage!
The information was retrieved from the Tea Advisory Panel (https://www.teaadvisorypanel.com/) and the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee (ISIC) (https://www.coffeeandhealth.org/), two of the most reliable sources in the field. If you’d like to know more, we recommend you check their websites, for a list of the studies they cite. It is also important to note that there is rarely a full consensus on the findings.
Written by Lisa Lombardi (Lynch's Brew intern)