Why Coffee & Tea Are Amazing for You
Coffee and tea tend to be what get people out of bed in the morning. The love for each goes as far as to gently remind others not to engage in conversation until they’ve had their morning cup. But other than giving you that bit of get up and go, what else makes these steaming cups of joy so amazing?
Although caffeine may be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear ‘coffee’ there are other incredible health benefits included in your favorite morning beverage. Coffee and tea both contain antioxidant-rich polyphenols, which limit the growth of cancer cells, with anti-inflammatory benefits. But it doesn’t end there.
Antioxidants and Reduced Mortality
Drinking one to two cups of coffee a day has been linked to reduced instances of Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, coronary artery disease, and kidney disease. You’re also less likely to develop colorectal cancer or suffer a stroke. You can thank the hydrocinnamic acids for that. They’re a type of antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and prevents oxidative stress. That means they work hard to fight inflammation.
But teas pack a powerful punch as well by lowering your risk of cancer and heart disease as well as helping to strengthen the immune system. Green tea actually contains catechins, a type of antioxidant connected to the brain which helps support cognitive function - more on this later.
The antioxidants in coffee and tea can help you live a longer life as well. A study of 500,000 people showed that drinking coffee lowered the risk of death, the biggest reduction was found in those who drank six to seven cups a day! Another study of more than 200,000 people followed for up to 30 years. Those who drank three to five cups of coffee a day, with or without caffeine, showed a reduction in mortality at fifteen percent. For the record, doctors recommended limiting yourself to four cups a day.
The study also found that other compounds (ie antioxidants) in coffee besides the caffeine seemed to be responsible for the delay in mortality as the delay was true for both caffeinated and decaf drinkers. The study also found a vast fifty percent reduction in the risk of suicide among men and women who were moderate coffee drinkers. Coffee helps stimulate the central nervous system, boosting production of neurotransmitters like serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine, which are known to elevate your mood.
Coffee isn’t the only mortality lowering drink though. Tea has been highly documented as helping extend longevity. People who live in Blue Zones, aka areas of the world where people regularly live to be over 100 and in good health, sip teas daily. Clearly both beverages are important when it comes to health and aging.
Mental Health, Cognitive Function, and Body Health
But aging gracefully isn’t the only benefit of tea. Teas also help improve mental health and cognitive function, remember from earlier? I told you we’d come back to it. As it turns out research on L-theanine has shown that tea also has a calming effect. It also helps your body absorb caffeine more slowly, keeping you from getting the jitters. The caffeine in teas and coffee helps with increased alertness and improves cognitive function, helping you tackle even your toughest day. The caffeine in each also stimulates your breathing and heart rate. One cup of coffee has 100 - 300 milligrams of caffeine per cup while tea has 20 - 60 milligrams. If you feel jittery from all that caffeine tea might be a better option.
To really get some extra bang for your cup drink a cup of coffee an hour before your workout. As a pre-workout beverage coffee offers an increase in epinephrine, also known as adrenaline, which helps you prepare for physical exertion. You can improve your performance by eleven to twelve percent. So drink up so you can run or cycle faster.
But coffee won’t just get you up and running. Coffee is also known for helping with digestive issues. The caffeine in it helps stimulate and contract your intestines. The same is true of tea. If you’re feeling a little backed up it’s good to drink a cup of either one to help get things moving. But be careful. Tea and coffee stimulate stomach acid production so drinking too much of either one on an empty stomach can cause discomfort. To boost the digestive health benefits of coffee and tea try adding a bit of cinnamon, ginger, or turmeric to your cup.
Other Health Benefits
Other health benefits include weight loss. Coffee contains magnesium and potassium, which help the body use insulin properly and regulate blood sugar levels. It also helps reduce your cravings for sugary treats and snacks. Coffee also decreases your insulin sensitivity and impairs glucose tolerance, helping to reduce your chance of developing type II diabetes.
Types of Tea,Their Benefits, and How to Brew Them
There are five true types of tea, each containing different amounts of caffeine and each with different health benefits. Below is a descriptive list of how they can help you and how you can brew each of them for maximum flavor and benefit.
Black Tea: 50 milligrams of caffeine, improves metabolic function, delays aging process, reduces oxidative process. Black tea should be brewed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes. Once steeping time has been reached remove tea leaves. If desired, serve your black tea with milk and sugar.
Green Tea: 20 - 30 milligrams of caffeine, regulates blood sugar, reduces risk of cancer, and helps with weightless. Green tea should be brewed at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for three minutes. For best results, set a timer so your tea isn’t too strong. If brewing Matcha tea reduce water temperature to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and whisk until frothy.
White Tea: 15 - 20 milligrams of caffeine, strengthens the immune system, reduces risk of cancer, and helps with weightless. White tea should be brewed at 175 degrees for three minutes.
Oolong Tea: 30 - 40 milligrams of caffeine, strengthens immune and nervous systems, delays aging process, improves metabolic function, and reduces risk of cancer. Lighter oxidized Oolong teas should be brewed at 175 degrees Fahrenheit for three to four minutes. Darker oxidized Oolong teas should be brewed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for three to four minutes. If you’re brewing an unflavored, rolled Oolong you may want to consider a 30 second rinse with 175 degrees Fahrenheit water, making sure to empty the water before performing the longer infusion.
Pu-erh Tea: 60 - 70 milligrams of caffeine, improves digestion, restores metabolism, reduces appetite, slows aging process, and reduces risk of cancer. Also known as hicaf teas, Pu-erh tea should be brewed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes, removing tea after brew time has finished.
Herbal: caffeine free, reduce inflammation, alleviate stress, strengthen the immune system, and calm mental wellbeing. Herbal teas should be brewed at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for five minutes.
Keep in mind that decaffeinated teas are NOT naturally caffeine free. They have had their caffeine removed through a specialized process. It’s also important to note that not all caffeine can be fully removed from decaf teas. Typically a small amount of 2-4 milligrams will remain in each cup of decaffeinated tea.
Suggested Sweetners and Milks
Once you’ve brewed your very own cup of tea it’s time to adjust it to your personal taste. Classic sweeteners include honey and sugar. But these may not work for everyone. For those worried about blood sugar control try using an artificial sweetener or agave syrup. Don’t like sweetened teas? No problem. A slice of lemon or a splash of milk, cream, or milk alternative can take your cup to the next level. Don’t be afraid to experiment and figure out what flavors you like best to accompany your favorite drink. Try out different steep times, water temperatures, and brewing styles to find the one that’s best for you. Along with the many health benefits of tea and coffee, you’ll find yourself enjoying the complex and unique flavors in every cup.