So What's Actually Better for You—Tea or Coffee?
As I write this, I have a cup of black coffee sitting next to me. I love coffee. So much. Drinking a particularly good cup in the a.m. sets my mood for the entire rest of the day. In fact, it's sort of like my version of morning meditation. Smelling the rich espresso scent of the grounds, pouring cold, clean water over the filter, and watching the steam rise off of the finished product is strangely cathartic. According to a new article published in The Telegraph, I don't have to feel quite so bad about my dependence on the delicious, inky beverage. In fact, I can celebrate my self-admitted coffee addiction, thanks to some seriously significant health benefits that it offers me. The same goes for any tea-addicts out there, too. Apparently, drinking tea on a daily basis can benefit your body in a huge way—so much so, that it might increase your life span. (We'll definitely drink a cup of green tea to that.)
Keep reading to see all of the health benefits that come from coffee and tea!
First: let's talk about the most significant benefit of tea: extended lifespan. The Telegraph cites a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that "showed that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had the equivalent of two cups a day." Scientists think this could be due to a special compound in tea that positively affects our genes. Similarly, in a study published in Human Molecular Genetics, evidence showed compounds in tea interacted with 28 different regions of the genome that were associated with cancer development and metabolism. In other words, drinking tea might significantly reduce the risk of fatal disease.
Another purported benefit of tea (this time green tea) is the possible increase in bone density and growth. Euan MacLennan is a medical herbalist with central London NHS General Practice. As he told The Telegraph, studies have "found that the epigallocatechin compound, which is abundant in green tea, can decrease the numbers of osteoclasts in the body – these are the cells that break down bone – and increase the numbers and activity of osteoblasts, the cells that build bone. Green tea may also be helpful if you need to speed up the healing process of a broken bone.” Who knew? It looks like green tea might be the secret to warding off osteoporosis.
Finally, we can't talk about green tea without mentioning its relation to weight. "Green tea may support weight loss in several ways: increasing thermogenesis (calorie-burning), increasing fat oxidation (burning of fat for energy), reducing fat absorption and even reducing appetite," MacLennan said. This is exactly why we brew a nice and strong cup of green tea when we're feeling bloated and uncomfortable. Don't fret: There's good news if you prefer black tea, too. According to research from Washington University School of Medicine, black tea can bolster the good bacteria in your gut, thereby strengthening your immunity.
Now on to my personal favorite: coffee. The Telegraph cites a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which showed that "compared with men who did not drink coffee, men who drank six or more cups per day had a 10 per cent lower risk of death, whereas women in this category of consumption had a 15 per cent lower risk." Six cups of coffee per day is intense, even for fellow caffeine addicts, but if there's a chance these numbers could be reflected on a smaller scale through, let's say, two or three cups per day, then we'll take it.
Bob Arnot, MD, author of The Coffee Lover's Diet (£16), says many of coffee's benefits stem from its high percentage of antioxidants that fight inflammation throughout the body. "We know now that the driving force behind many illnesses such as heart disease and stroke is inflammation, which is something polyphenols can help with. And coffee contains two and half times more polyphenols than tea on average," he shared. Just be sure to stick to coffee made from beans that were grown at a high altitude. He says these types usually have the highest amount of polyphenols. Also, the darker roast you go, the better.
Clearly, there's no real winner. Whichever one you prefer—coffee or tea—rejoice! You're majorly benefitting your health with every cup. (Just don't overdo it on the caffeine.)