Coffee and tea not only provide cozy morning rituals and boosts of energy during midday slumps; these hot drinks have also been long acknowledged for their medicinal properties, which primarily come from the caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee beans and tea leaves. While coffee is higher in both caffeine and antioxidants than tea, you can drink more tea throughout the day to gain equal health benefits.
|Drink||mg per cup|
|Oolong Tea||26 to 39|
|Green Tea||16 to 26|
|White Tea||1 to 15|
When it comes to coffee, some of the health benefits come from the caffeine, some from the powerful antioxidant properties, and there are likely benefits from other constituents of coffee as well.
According to researchers at Harvard University, the main health benefits of tea stem from the catechins and epicatechins, two types of polyphenols antioxidants contained in tea leaves. The caffeine in tea also offers some health benefits.
Don’t disregard herbal teas and decaf teas and decaf coffee, which are caffeine-free but also provide high levels of antioxidants. Here are five benefits that you can enjoy from drinking coffee and tea, and a note on potential side effects.
5 Benefits from Coffee and Tea
1. Protection against liver disease and cancer. Coffee is high in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals that can cause degradation to cells (associated with premature aging) and contribute to the development of some cancers. The antioxidants found in coffee may be beneficial in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and may reduce the risk of liver cancer and death from chronic liver disease. According to the National Cancer Institute, the antioxidants of green tea may help to reduce tumor growth.
2. Possible decreased risk of dementia. The caffeine in coffee and tea has long been shown to stimulate brain activity, but new studies show that the caffeine in both coffee and tea may protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Some research has even suggested a possible correlation between coffee consumption and decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease. It may also be the caffeine from the coffee that protects against Parkinson’s because decaf drinkers don’t appear to have the same protection.
3. Lowered risk of type 2 diabetes. Recent research by Harvard University School of Public Health indicates that the polyphenols from coffee or tea consumption can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and help improve insulin secretion and sensitivity.
4. Protection from cardiovascular disease. As studies suggest, the consumption of both coffee and green tea may lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers have found that antioxidants in coffee may offer protective effects on the vascular system.
Coffee and Tea: Potential Side Effects
- Irregular heartbeat
Coffee (both regular and decaf) can also irritate the digestive tract, bladder, and prostate.
The concerns with high caffeine consumption apply equally to coffee and tea, but you’d have to drink many more cups of tea to ingest those same high levels of caffeine. If you’re drinking a cup of tea in the evening, you may want to opt for caffeine-free herbal tea or white tea, which contains the lowest amount of caffeine, so as not to interfere with your sleep habits.
Overall it appears that various types of tea and coffee have excellent health benefits so it’s mostly a matter of personal preference as to which one you prefer to drink. It is best to drink organic coffee and tea to avoid ingesting pesticides and other harmful substances.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.
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Harvard Health Publishing. (n.d.). Health benefits linked to drinking tea. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/health-benefits-linked-to-drinking-tea
Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more. (2017, April 14). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372
Richelle, M., Tavazzi, I., & Offord, E. (2001, July). Comparison of the antioxidant activity of commonly consumed polyphenolic beverages (coffee, cocoa, and tea) prepared per cup serving. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11453788