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Coffee vs. Tea

Which Should You Drink

Drinking is a necessity - not alcohol, but for hydration. It’s so important that if you go more than 3 days without drinking, you could actually die.  But what do we, and more importantly should we, drink?

What is the world’s most popular drink (excluding water)?  With all the marketing you might think pop, but you would be wrong.  Maybe coffee…with everyone worldwide sipping it hot or iced, espresso, cappuccino, latte... not even close. Then it has to be all the beer consumed camping, socially, and at sporting events, wrong again. It is tea!  Tea and coffee now have a reputation as healthy drinks (not so for pop and beer).

In North America convenience is king and there is a Starbucks or Tim Horton's on every corner. Include the single serve pod machines in over 1/3 of all North American households and it’s no surprise coffee rules the roost.  Worldwide it is a different story. Tea dominates for many reasons; tradition, cost, ease of use and simplicity to name a few.  So.. which is the healthier choice?

The teas in the studies discussed are not any of the thousands of varieties and blends of herbal teas but true tea, Camellia sinensis. Popular for over 5,000 years in both green and black varieties (dried differently), it has a strong medicinal profile.

Like coffee, tea is rich in antioxidants to protect cells from daily oxidative damage. Tea also contains caffeine but less than coffee (depending on the type of tea it can be a lot less), so it's a great alternative to cut your caffeine intake. So, what makes tea the healthier choice?

Weight Loss & Management:  Tea (green tea) has been shown in numerous clinical trials to significantly aid weight loss. The combination of caffeine and catechins (a specific class of antioxidants found in tea) boost your metabolism, helping you burn more fat and lose weight. It also keeps you well hydrated which can help curb appetite.   Not only does tea help you burn fat, a powerful tea catechin epigallocatechin-3 gallate (ECGC) in combination with the caffeine was found to slow down weight gain.

Reduce Stroke Risk:  Researchers found that drinking 3 cups of tea daily (green or black) significantly reduced risk of stroke by 21%.  The study authors were particularly excited because (as they wrote) "there are very few known ways proven to reduce stroke risk and finding one that works and is non-toxic is great!"

Pump-up Your Endurance:  If you want to go harder longer and get the most from your exercise, have some tea.  Researchers found that green tea can improve your body’s efficient use of oxygen, increasing endurance.

Memory Protector:  Studies show green tea’s EGCG is not just good for your heart but also your head. It helps improve memory and cognitive function by increasing your production of neural progenitor cells. These cells are akin to brain stem cells that are used to replace damaged cells. They found that by increasing production of these cells they were able to improve memory and speed learning.  

In other studies scientists found green tea had a protective effect on brain cells. They concluded that the digested compounds in green tea were effective against key triggers of Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. These compounds protect the cells from  destruction by toxins and help block the formation of plaques linked to dementia.

Blood Pressure Regulation:  Tea is an enigma when it comes to blood pressure. True, coffee, tea, cola, and energy drinks all have caffeine, and large amounts are associated with higher blood pressure levels. Yet, researchers have found tea does the exact opposite. They found both green tea and black tea effectively reduce blood pressure level enough to reduce risk of stroke and heart disease by as much as 5%. Researchers are unclear on the exact mechanism of action or dose, only that it works!

Cholesterol control:  High blood pressure isn’t the only trigger for heart disease. Cholesterol, specifically LDL and total cholesterol need to be kept in check. Studies show that green tea can significantly lower both total cholesterol and LDL levels.

Tea has no equal when it comes to your health. With numerous benefits, it is highly versatile, fairly inexpensive, and easy to use and enjoy. So, the next time you sit down to quench your thirst or for a drink with friends, toast 'to your health with tea'!