Humanity is divided in to 2 camps: the tea aficionados (like me) and the coffee addicts. Geography and national culture often pre-determines your preference. The U.S. and Italy are coffee nations, whereas the UK and large parts of Asia are firmly rooted in tea culture. With that said, many people enjoy both drinks. Some wonder how these hot beverages compare nutritionally, so here’s what you need to know:
Calories – Tea leaf or coffee bean – both contain no fat, no sodium, and no carbs, so you can’t go wrong. Prepared with boiling water, both coffee and tea contain almost no calories. However, this “straight” drink is either too bitter or flavorless for many people. This is where trouble begins with the addition of sweeteners and/or cream.
Caffeine – Both the leaf and the bean contain caffeine. Coffee has about twice as much as tea for a comparable cup of hot drink. For most people, a reasonable amount of caffeine during the day (3 cups of coffee or 6 cups of tea) is considered healthy, and even recommended! Caffeine helps kickstart your metabolism. In fact, if you work out in the morning, a quick cup of joe before your 2-mile run will help you perform better.
Nutrients – Both drinks can add a bit of nutrition to your body. Coffee has some B vitamins, potassium and other minerals. Tea is high in manganese, folate and potassium. In recent years, green tea (my favorite) has become popular in the U.S. due to its cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Disease Prevention – A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that daily intakes of more than 100 ml (3 fl. Oz.) of tea or coffee may significantly reduce the risk of certain brain tumors.
So, which is healthier for a 3pm pick-me-up: a shot of espresso, or a cup of Earl Grey? As long as you stick to the basic liquid, there is no need to choose sides. Both of these hot drinks are harmless in sane quantities throughout the day, and may even provide a few nutritional benefits. It’s the add-ons that will throw your diet under the bus. Just two teaspoons of sugar and a tablespoon of milk added to your drink thrice a day, will increase your daily calorie count by 100-150.
If you’re still using sugar (even sugar in the raw) or artificial sweeteners (such as Sweet n Low, Equal, or Splenda) challenge yourself to gradually reduce the amount by half. You can go down from 2 teaspoons to 1 within a few weeks to months and then down from one to none within a similar time frame (but if you are like me and need a little sweetness with your hot coffee or tea, try using a monk fruit sweetener or Stevia which is my sweetener of choice). Also, read the ingredient lists to make sure no surprise ingredients have been added to your coffee beans or your tea leaves.
So, what’s the bottom line? Both tea and coffee are healthy at up to three cups of coffee or six cups of tea per day, just watch the amount of sweetener and/or cream you use. Let me know in the comments below what your fave is, coffee or tea and until next time, stay happy, healthy and beautiful.