Tea versus coffee: health benefits of each

Partial to the odd cup of coffee or tea but wondering which is best? We take a look at the benefits of each

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What are the health benefits of tea?

Herbs used in quality teas carry many different plant antioxidants and nutrients that benefit the overall health of the body. Green tea, for example, has been found to be high in vitamin C. It also has reasonable amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc and other minerals. But it’s the presence of a group of powerful plant chemicals called polyphenols that have received most attention.

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The ones in green tea have been shown to interact with the human metabolism in various beneficial ways, helping to keep the body healthy. Japanese scientists have also found that green tea can increase thermogenesis – the heat that the metabolism creates during the burning of food.

What are the health benefits of coffee?

Coffee also has several documented health benefits. According to a spate of studies, moderate coffee drinking may lower the risk of colon cancer, gallstones, cirrhosis of the liver and even Parkinson’s disease. In addition, some studies have indicated that coffee contains four times the amount of cancer-fighting antioxidants as green tea. Strong coffee slightly raises heart rate and blood pressure, and very strong coffee can give the adrenal glands a kick, releasing adrenalin, and therefore adding to other stresses on the body. For the athlete, caffeine is a useful ergogenic aid. And taken before exercise is known to prolong endurance capacity, as well as assist in the metabolism of fat as energy. 

So both tea and coffee have several health benefits and a variety of quality teas and coffees within the diet can be both enjoyable and complimentary to the body. But both can affect the absorption of minerals such as calcium, zinc and iron, so neither is advised at meal times. And as sleep (and therefore recovery) can also be disrupted with too much caffeine, take care not to overdo it.

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