When we think unhealthy habits we often think coffee drinking is one of the bad guys in our everyday diets. The US government however, in their new dietary guidelines in January (2016) included some coffee drinking and so the debate renews and brews on whether coffee or tea is best for health.
An article in Vogue Magazine a while back by Monica Kim, reviewed this question, and tried to make some final sense of the ongoing debate. One of the most vocal of the coffee advocates is Bulletproof Coffee’s Dave Asprey. He claims that drinking a moderate amount of coffee per day with the addition of grass-fed butter boosts his mental prowess. Although some say he has a stake or, shall we say a coffee bean, in saying that- he may be right. Many people feel that a little coffee throughout the day keeps them alert and sharp.
A study last year from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health showed that drinking coffee in moderation, (between 3-5 cups) has health improving benefits and will reduce your chances of dying prematurely from acquired illnesses. Co-author of the study, Ming Ding, adds that the benefits are likely due to the antioxidants in coffee, which can reduce systemic inflammation and lower mortality. And she added that it appeared caffeine had no noticeable affect on efficacy in these benefits. However, the studies have not fully examined if or how the effect of milk and sugar has on the findings.
So what of tea? The benefits of tea have long been steeping shown in the well-known promises of green tea which has been claimed to increase mortality, health and even weight loss. Hasan Mukhtar, whose University of Wisconsin’s laboratory has been studying tea since 1989 holds that definitely it is tea that is better for our health.
“We have consistently found that topical application for the skin and oral administration of tea leads to significant reduction in cancer incidences.” He also adds “Polyphenolic compounds in tea like EGCG have been know to provide significant protection against radiation and sun damage, results that Mukhtar stresses have been repeatedly shown in many, many studies”
But the debate continues to percolate through the science community and we are still left in the dark roast of the argument. Perhaps we should follow the advice of Steven Hatch M.D. who poignantly wrote in his book, ‘Snowball in a Blizzard: A Physicians Notes On Uncertainty in Medicine, “Whatever effects routine coffee consumption may have in these situations, they are likely to have a small impact and….are probably not worth changing your coffee habits immediately.”
So, until the brewing controversy finally boils over, it may be best that we simply continue our tea and coffee consumption until we hear some solid advice. Because one thing that has been proven over time is that moderation is the key, even in the good-for-you category.
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