The great rivalry between tea and coffee is a tale as old as time. With so many passionate supporters on both ends of the spectrum, it’s hard to decide which beverage is actually better for your health. Is one more nutritionally sound? What are the long-lasting health benefits of both beverages? To answer these questions, let’s look at the nutritional breakdown of each of these popular drinks.
What are coffee and tea made of?
Coffee is made by grinding roasted coffee beans, which contain caffeine and other compounds. All sorts of flavours are added to this base drink including sugar, cream or milk, all of which can be either beneficial or detrimental to your health based on the amount you consume.
Tea is made by drying and then grinding or slicing young leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which contains caffeine and other compounds. A variety of flavours are then added in the form of inclusions, extracts, or artificial flavours.
Coffee and tea both impart their own health benefits, but they differ greatly in their effectiveness as they can be lacking in certain nutrients.
Right off the bat, it’s worth noting that coffee contains more caffeine than any other type of tea. The exact amount of caffeine varies based on the type of ground coffee or bean used to make each cup. As a general rule, however, one should expect at least 40 milligrams of caffeine per one cup of black coffee. Green tea is somewhere in between black and white teas, with roughly 30 mg per cup. Oolong tea contains about 21 mg, while white tea contains 15 mg.
This begs the age-old question, is caffeine actually that bad for you?
In a word, no. While some people claim they experience symptoms such as heart palpitations and jitters from moderate amounts of caffeine, the evidence shows that you must have an abnormally high amount of caffeine in order to reach toxic levels. In fact, moderate caffeine intake is thought to have a variety of health benefits, including increased alertness and reduced risk of certain types of cancer.
According to Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), there is no recognized acceptable daily intake for caffeine. In saying this, it’s important to remember that sipping on drinks with a high caffeine amount should be done in moderation. For elderly adults, we recommend keeping the consumption to earlier in the day to ensure that caffeine won’t contribute to any sleep interruptions.
Coffee and tea both contain a variety of antioxidants, making them both useful for those looking to protect their health. Antioxidants are chemical compounds that have been proven to reduce the risk of certain health conditions such as cancer or diabetes.
Coffee has higher levels of antioxidants than green tea, thanks to the chlorogenic acids present in espresso. Green tea contains polyphenols, which are very similar to the chlorogenic acids found in coffee, but not nearly as concentrated.
As such, if you like drinking your beverages in high quantities, then tea would be the better option for you. Otherwise, coffee consumed with self-control can make a great addition to a balanced diet.
As you can see, there is no correct answer to the original question. Regardless of which one is your preferred choice, reaping the health benefits of either beverage will depend on how much you have. Remember that moderation is always key because happiness is a place between too little and too much!