The chances are that you are either a coffee drinking fanatic or you love your cup of tea. Whatever I say about either of these beverages, you are not going to change your habit! And just so you know from the outset, I have always been a tea drinker and enjoy a couple of cups of English Breakfast type tea every day, black with plenty of fresh lemon and a little brown sugar to sweeten!
According to legend, Chinese Emperor Shen Nong started the tea drinking habit in 2757 BC when a tea leaf is said to have ended up in his cup of hot water. Coffee drinking is much more recent and has only been around for about a thousand years. The biggest tea drinkers per capita are the Irish while Finland has the most coffee drinkers for it size. But the people of the US consume the most coffee in the world.
So what are the good and bad things about tea and coffee?
Starting with tea, there are benefits to point out:
• Tea can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and the bone loss disorder osteoporosis.
• Most teas contain antioxidants which help prevent cavities in your teeth and may even promote skin rejuvenation.
• Tea (and especially green tea) can increase metabolism which is a key factor for successful weight loss. Increasing your metabolism means your body burns more calories, making weight loss quicker and easier for many.
• Tea relaxes the blood flow through your arteries, resulting in lowered blood pressure.
• Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. A study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
• Tea protects your bones. It's not just the milk added to tea that builds strong bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors. The authors suggest that this may be the work of tea's many beneficial phytochemicals.
• Tea gives you a sweet smile.. Tea itself actually contains fluoride and tannins that may keep plaque at bay but it has to be minus the sugar!
• Tea bolsters your immune defences. Drinking tea may help your body's immune system fight off infection.
• Tea protects against cancer. The polyphenols, the antioxidants found in tea, are thought to be good for their cancer-fighting properties.
• Tea helps keep you hydrated. Recent research has shown that tea definitely contributes to our daily fluid needs except when you drink more than 5 or 6 cups at one time.
• Tea is calorie-free. Black tea (minus the milk or the sweetener) doesn’t have any calories. Tea is a good choice for a calorie free beverage.
I have to mention Rooibos tea from South Africa
This is a very healthy drink and is fast gaining popularity world wide with many benefits:
- It is a high in antioxidants and is the only known source of the antioxidant known as aspalathin. It is thought that aspalathin could play a role in combating several lifestyle diseases.
- Researchers say that Rooibos tea has anti HIV activity, anti-tumor potential and may protect brain cells from damage by toxin.
- Research studies have proven cancer fighting properties.
- Additional research has pointed to anti aging properties while Rooibos is said to assist with nervous tension and digestive problems.
- The traditional medicinal use of Rooibos in South Africa includes alleviating infantile colic, allergies, asthma and dermatological problems.
- This tea is naturally caffeine free (as opposed to decaffeinated) and is very suitable for children and infants as well as pregnant and breast feeding mothers.
- This tea has low amounts of tannin. This is good because tannins interfere with iron absorption in the body.
- Absolutely no negative side effects of Rooibos have ever been recorded.
And then we go on to coffee
Although coffee has not received the best of press reports in recent years, there are still benefits to be had when you consume moderate amounts of coffee on a regular basis. The important point with coffee is moderation:
- Coffee can dramatically decrease the incidence of gall bladder disease and gall stones in both men and women.
- Coffee can reduce the risk for Alzheimer's disease if you consume about 2 cups of caffeinated coffer per day.
- Drinking coffee can bring about a reduced risk for Parkinson's disease.
- Coffee also contains antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties. The good news is that coffee is chock-a-block full of the compound methylpyridinium, which can't be found in many other food items and not at the level available in coffee. You can get antioxidants from both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee as long as the beans are sufficiently roasted.
- Drinking coffee gives you increased cognitive ability. This is even more pronounced in the elderly.
- Coffee is a stimulant and also a laxative. But because coffee is also a diuretic, it can cause constipation in some.
- Coffee drinkers can have a reduced risk of gout.
Whether you are a tea drinker or a coffee drinker, the good news is that there are benefits in both beverages. But moderation is important especially with coffee as an excessive amount can cause problems. Heavy coffee drinking can lead to irritability, anxiety, sleep deprivation, cardiovascular problems and higher cholesterol levels.
Tea has less caffeine than coffee so if drinking coffee gives you the jitters, causes indigestion or headaches or interferes with sleep - switch to tea!