Coffee, tea (or both)?

I’m sometimes asked, “Which is the healthier beverage, coffee or green tea?” There is no right or wrong answer. Both naturally contain caffeine, although in varying amounts, and research has shown that both have beneficial properties.

A recently published book, Green Tea Polyphenols, reviews much of the research about how the natural components found in green tea may benefit our health. The book itself is pretty scientific. You probably won’t want to buy a copy for relaxing bedtime reading. But I was fascinated to read how the antioxidants and other components found in green tea are associated with everything from strengthening the immune system (so important this time of year!), and helping with weight management to improving heart health and oral health.

Realistically, will you experience all of these benefits by sipping green tea each afternoon? Probably not, unless you routinely consume gallons. Most of these tightly controlled scientific studies depend on people getting exact dosages of green tea’s polyphenols. High quality green tea extracts such as Sunphenon are used instead.

Brewing a cup of green tea still has its advantages. Some cultures have used tea for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. You’ll still get small doses of the health-promoting polyphenols. And I don’t know about you, but I find a cup of tea in the late afternoon to be relaxing. (Especially after spending the day chasing after a toddler!) It’s not going to give you the jitters because it’s got less caffeine than coffee.

Speaking of coffee, it has several redeeming qualities. As the Mayo Clinic points out, coffee has lots of healthful micronutrients such as magnesium, potassium, niacin and vitamin E. It’s also thought to help reduce the formation of gallstones. And as most of us can attest: we can also rely on coffee to jolt us awake. A study of more than 27,000 postmenopausal women concluded that coffee may inhibit the development of cardiovascular disease, while another associated coffee drinking with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.

If you’re a coffee drinker, just be sure to enjoy it in moderation. Too much caffeine can lead to anxiety, tremors, abnormal heart rhythms, irritability and high blood pressure.