There are coffee lovers, tea lovers and those who enjoy both. The question is do you drink it because you enjoy it, or because of the health benefits it can bring?
For most people, much of it comes down to taste – some drink tea because they cannot stand coffee and vice-versa, while those who drink both usually have whatever they are in the mood for.
The more health conscious among us also make their choices based on the health benefits they offer. And when it comes to healthy drinks, people automatically presume tea is naturally healthy and coffee is something that wakes you up and keeps you that way.
But science paints a different and more interesting picture of our favourite hot drinks . . . and the good news is we can enjoy them and boost our health.
American heart surgeon and author Dr Steven Gundry has discovered that both of our favourite drinks are actually good for you.
This is great news, especially for people who enjoy tea and coffee. Many of us need that coffee hit in the mornings to get going and switch to tea later on – or pick and mix our way through the day.
And it might just be us, but we find it difficult to visit a coffee shop and just have tea. We almost want to be dazzled by what the barista conjures up – without the hassle of making it and, even worse, cleaning up afterwards. No mess is something we at Degono are passionate about!
Good for you
Anyway, when it comes to putting the kettle on and deciding whether to have tea or coffee, Dr Gundry told CBN News his research discovered “they're actually both incredibly good for you".
Apart from the taste and the way we feel after enjoying our favourite beverage, Dr Gundry explains that the biggest health benefit to us comes from the plant compounds polyphenols.
He said: "Those polyphenols are eaten by our gut bacteria, they're pre-biotics. Polyphenols may be one of the keys to having a great gut microbiome.”
CBN News reports that research shows polyphenols help prevent cancer and feed mitochondria – the energy-producing organelles in our cells.
While coffee usually contains more polyphenols than tea, the content varies according to the way the coffee beans are roasted.
Dr Gundry told CBN: “Coffee generally contains more polyphenols than tea, but the polyphenol content in coffee varies according to the way it's roasted.
"The light roast or the medium roast have the most benefits in terms of polyphenols. The darker roasts, like French roast, that darkening process, that dark roasting process, virtually eliminates most of the beneficial polyphenols."
Keep it straight
Coffee is followed by green tea and black tea for polyphenol content – but unfortunately the health benefits are wiped out if you add milk, sugar or even sweeteners.
Dr Gundry warned: "If you put any milk-based product like half-and-half (semi-skimmed), like plain old milk, it completely binds with the polyphenols in both tea and coffee and makes them pretty worthless for you.
"Sugar, as most folks are beginning to realize, is one of the biggest health hazards there is, and that includes even fake sugars."
Other health benefits of coffee and tea are that they contain cancer-fighting anti-oxidants.
Coffee has more of them and also contains more caffeine, which is generally considered healthy, especially for the brain and memory functions.
But too much caffeine can affect sleep, especially if you have coffee in the evening.
Dr Gundry switches between the two to enjoy the benefits of both.
He said: "I have three cups of coffee in the morning and then I switch over to tea and I have about five cups of tea."
So it seems there is method in our madness of switching between our favourite drinks throughout the day. The lack of milk and sugar is the only thing that leaves a slightly bitter taste, but we can work on that!
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