An RD compares coffee and tea

Throughout history, many magnificent rivalries have existed, but nothing ignites passion like a food-related debate. In all honesty, I still shudder when I recall a recent “discussion” between strawberry jam and grape jelly.

Let’s talk about the most famous of them all today: coffee versus tea. The issue has been debated for ages. In this article, we’ll focus on evaluating each beverage’s health benefits rather than its brands, add-ins, brewing methods, or hot or cold smackdowns. What is the difference between the two? How does one compare to the other in terms of long-term benefits? As we try to resolve this (ahem) heated debate, we encourage you to leave preconceived notions and biases at the table.

According to a registered dietitian, this is the nutritional difference between coffee and tea

1. Longevity and antioxidants

Coffee and tea contain polyphenols that help to lower inflammation, says nutritionist and author Keri Gans, MS, RDN. As a result, tea consumption may help lower the risk of cancer and heart disease, as well as boost the immune system.” Green tea is rich in polyphenols and antioxidants, which may support cognition. There is a connection between brain health and catechins, which are antioxidants found in tea. Antioxidants are also abundant in black tea.

In addition to being antioxidant-rich, coffee offers many health benefits. In addition to reducing the risk of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, scarring of the liver, and colorectal cancer, coffee is also said to reduce the risk of heart disease,” Gans explains. There is evidence that coffee is rich in antioxidants such as hydrocinnamic acids and polyphenols. In addition to neutralizing free radicals and preventing oxidative stress, these antioxidants also help the body fight inflammation.

According to a 2018 study of 500,000 people, drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of death-and the biggest reduction in mortality was for people who consumed six to seven cups per day. (This is more than the four cups daily recommended by doctors.) Since this occurred for both decaf and caffeinated coffee drinkers, something else in coffee must be responsible for life extension–this is likely the antioxidants.

People in Blue Zones, aka regions where it is normal to live over 100 in good health, drink tea daily. Although not as common as tea, coffee is one of the drinks of choice for those in the Blue Zones.

Conclusion? Both tea and coffee contain ample antioxidants and contribute to healthy aging.

2. Espresso

Jitters are more common with high caffeine content, and coffee generally has much more caffeine than tea. (Tea contains around 20-60 milligrams of caffeine per cup, while coffee contains 100-300 milligrams.)

However, even a small amount of caffeine can cause jitters for individuals who are very sensitive to it. This is where green tea has an edge over espresso: “Green tea contains l-theanine, a compound that slows down the absorption of caffeine, thus giving consumers more control over their body’s reaction to the drug,” Gans says. Also, caffeine can cause people to feel jumpy because it stimulates their heart rate and breathing. If you’re in that camp, tea could be a good option for you.

A pre-workout beverage or more of a jolt might benefit you more from coffee (unless you have an extremely sensitive stomach). You may be able to run or cycle faster as epinephrine, commonly called adrenaline, is also released by coffee. Remember, overeating any kind of caffeine (more than four cups per day) can cause unpleasant and potentially dangerous side effects, such as insomnia, headaches, and muscle tremors.

3. Ingestion

Regarding that. Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, previously told Well+Good that caffeine can make your intestines contract, which is one reason why coffee makes you poop. If you drink coffee or tea on an empty stomach, both will stimulate the production of stomach acid. In addition to causing stomach discomfort, this can also boost digestion and promote bowel movement.

If you notice these symptoms when you are hungry, try eating something to see if that makes a difference. “If the symptoms persist despite eating, you might switch to a brand of coffee or tea that has a lower acid content or perhaps try decaf,” Gans adds.

Adding a pinch of turmeric, ginger, or cinnamon to your coffee or tea will boost its gut health benefits (gastroenterologists advise this).

4. Cognitive health and mental health

Do you remember that l-theanine from before? In addition to that, tea contains caffeine, which is known to boost cognitive abilities, says Gans. “Research on L-theanine indicated that it can also have a calming effect,” she says. Caffeine also increases alertness.

According to Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, caffeine increases levels of norepinephrine, a stimulant, and dopamine, a chemical that helps your brain focus. Both of these beverages contain caffeine, which makes them useful for boosting alertness and motivation.

Learn more about the health benefits of coffee from Lockwood Beckerman in this video:

5. Dental health

The presence of fluoride in tea could help prevent cavities, according to Gans. It is surprising to learn that dark teas stain teeth less than coffee.

What’s the final answer? The two are superstars in the nutrition department, and we’re here to inform you (read: not sway) about your morning drink. Take the one that makes you happy. Better yet, take them both.

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