Health Benefits Of Coffee vs. Tea: Which One Is Better For You?

To some, coffee is an essential drug of sorts: a jolting liquid that staves away fatigue, headaches, and lack of motivation. Or perhaps you’re a recovering coffee addict who has now turned to the soothing varieties of tea to get a decent caffeine fix, just without the jitters.

Of course, coffee sometimes sounds more like an addiction than a drink that’s good for you, and this is perhaps why tea gets the good reputation of being healthier. But is tea really that much better for you?

Origins

While tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water (and right before beer), coffee is also hugely popular. And both drinks have been around for a long time, to boot.

According to legend, tea was first discovered by the Emperor of China in 2737 BC while he was boiling water under a tree. When leaves accidentally fell into the boiling water, he tasted it and was surprised by its goodness. Tea then became popular among scholars and priests in China and Japan, who drank tea to stay awake, study, and meditate. This is perhaps why the hot drink has always been associated with mindfulness, calm, spirituality, and solid health.

Coffee, meanwhile, didn’t seem to appear until much later — and is believed to have originated in the Ethiopian highlands, where legend says a goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats became hyperactive after eating certain berries from a tree. Coffee then spread to monks at monasteries, where they drank the beverage to keep them alert while praying. From there, it began making its way across the Arabian Peninsula. Both coffee and tea remained Eastern beverages for a long time; coffee didn’t even arrive in Europe until the 17th century.

Benefits

Both coffee and tea have their benefits, though it’s always hard to pinpoint exactly what those are due to the large amount of contradictory studies. Researchers have focused on specific potential benefits of coffee, with some studies finding that coffee might have the ability to reduce the incidence of dementia or Alzheimer’s or even type 2 diabetes, for example. Coffee has a higher caffeine content than tea, meaning its levels of the stimulant might help people with asthma by relaxing the lung’s airways. Caffeine also helps in constricting blood vessels in the brain and reducing migraines, and often alleviates hangovers because of this. So if you’ve got a bad headache, taking some Advil with coffee and food (and water) might help you out.

Harvard School of Public Health analyzed coffee’s overall effect on health and concluded that the beverage was pretty neutral — it didn’t cause any serious health problems, but it also didn’t necessarily have any specific health benefits, either. Even drinking up to 6 cups of coffee didn’t appear to raise anyone’s risk of dying — but it also didn’t seem to make anyone live particularly longer. What this means, essentially, is that if you’re a stalwart coffee lover, you really have nothing to worry about.

Tea, on the other hand, is filled with antioxidants and potential cancer-fighting properties. According to the National Cancer Institute at the NIH, tea contains polyphenol compounds, which are antioxidants that might aid in cancer prevention. Though not enough has been studied to conclude whether tea does in fact reduce the risk of cancer, tea has often been considered a therapeutic or medicinal drink that has both soothing and rejuvenating qualities. All types of tea are made from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis, which wilt and oxidize after harvesting; oxidation results in the breaking down of chemicals. The amount of oxidation that occurs in the leaves is what defines different types of teas, from black tea to white tea, and of course green tea. Polyphenols in particular are a group of plant chemicals that are believed to be involved in health benefits — especially in green tea. Teas with the highest levels of polyphenols are usually brewed hot teas rather than cold (and sugary) bottled teas. Polyphenols in green tea, and theaflavins and thearubigins in black tea, contain free radicals that might protect cells from DNA damage.

Cons

As with anything that contains caffeine, way too much coffee and tea could result in increased anxiety, tachycardia, heart palpitations, insomnia, restlessness, and nausea. High amounts of unfiltered coffee, meanwhile, has been linked to higher levels of bad cholesterol, LDL. Tea contains fluoride, and while this is good for your dental health, too much of it may increase your risk of brittle bones and osteofluorosis. Certain tea blends from China, India, or Sri Lanka have been found to contain aluminum and risky amounts of lead, so where you get your tea is pretty important.

To be completely honest, however, you’re better off leaving the heavy cream and three packs of sugar out of your drinks — and stop worrying about whether coffee trumps tea or vice versa. Both drinks have vague cons and benefits, but are, for the most part, pretty decent for you. Too much sugar, on the other hand, is quite the villain — so enjoy your caffeine and remember to take your coffee breaks or meditative tea breaks every so often; humans have been doing it for thousands of years.

Local Restaurants Scare Up Spooktacular Halloween Deals

No tricks! But you’re in for a big treat this Halloween as restaurant chains serve up spooktacular savings and devilish deals. We’ve scared up a spellbinding selection of those Halloween deals below. Unless otherwise noted, all deals are for Friday, October 31. Keep in mind that participation may vary by location. Check with your local restaurant for further details.

Baja Fresh – Kids in costume get a free meal with purchase of any adult entree and this coupon. October 27th through 31st only.

Beef ‘O’ Brady’s – Kids in costume receive one free meal per purchase of any adult entree

Bellagios Pizza – Place your order for Halloween (10/31/14) at least 24 hours in advance and get 10% off of your order.

Boston Market – Free Kids Meal with purchase of any Individual Meal with this coupon.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Free Kids Meal October 31st through November 2nd with purchase of any adult entree with this coupon. Limit 2 free Kids Meals per coupon, per visit.

Chevys Fresh Mex – Kids eat free all week. $5 to go burritos all day on Halloweeen.

Chipotle Mexican Grill – Visit any Chipotle restaurant dressed in costume between 5 p.m. and closing on October 31, and purchase a burrito, burrito bowl, tacos, salad or kids meal for only $3.

HomeTown Buffet – Bring your little ghosts and goblins to any of the 324 restaurants on Halloween night (Friday, October 31, 2014), and all costumed characters 11 years old and younger will enjoy a free meal. The free dinner offer is available from 5 to 8 p.m. on October 31.

IHOP – Now through October 31st, kids 12 and under can get a free “Scary Face” pancake and make it into as scary – or funny – a face as they want. One per child. Dine-in only.

Krispy Kreme – On October 31st, come in in your costume and get one free boo-tiful doughnut of your choice (including the Ghostbusters doughnuts) at any participating Krispy Kreme US and Canadian location.

Lone Star Steakhouse – Little Goblins Eat Free all day October 31st. Get one free Littles’ meal with each regularly priced adult entree purchased.

Morton’s The Steakhouse – Three courses for $35 at participating locations on October 31st.

Old Country Buffet – Bring your little ghosts and goblins to any of the 324 restaurants on Halloween night (Friday, October 31, 2014), and all costumed characters 11 years old and younger will enjoy a free meal. The free dinner offer is available from 5 to 8 p.m. on October 31.

Olive Garden – Free kids meal with adult entree purchase and this coupon.

Outback Steakhouse – Treat your little ghouls, goblins and ghosts to a free kids meal with the purchase of any adult entree. No coupon necessary. Limit two free kids meals per visit.

Ryan’s – Bring your little ghosts and goblins to any of the 324 restaurants on Halloween night (Friday, October 31, 2014), and all costumed characters 11 years old and younger will enjoy a free meal. The free dinner offer is available from 5 to 8 p.m. on October 31.

Sbarro – Kids eat free on October 31st and during Mall Halloween Festivities. Bring your kids in costume and they will receive one free pizza slice (cheese or pepperoni) with the purchase of any entree.

Sonic Drive-In – 50¢ corn dogs all day. Offer is good for one day only while supplies last.

Souper Salad – Feed your little monster for free Monday, October 27th to Friday, October 31st. Kids eat for 99¢ or free with costume. Adult buffet purchase required for each free or 99¢ kid’s meal. Kids 10 and under. Not valid in Georgetown, Lubbock and Pasadena.

Stevi B’s Pizza Buffet – Kids under 10 in Halloween costumes can eat for 99¢ on Halloween. Buffet only.

Texas Corral Grill & Saloon – Free kids entree with purchase of adult entree with this coupon.

Texas Steakhouse & Saloon – Kids in costume eat free through October 31st with purchase of adult entree. Dine-in only.

Tubby’s Grilled Submarines – Kids can color this sheet and bring in to a Tubby’s for a free small order of french fries with any sub purchase. Valid on regular prices subs only, not on $5 deli subs.

UNO Pizzeria & Grill – Halloween Party, Tuesday, October 28th, 4-7 pm. Kids eat free with purchase of an adult entree. Pumpkin decorating, coloring sheets, goody bags and more at participating locations.

How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?

“Caffeine intoxication” became official in the medical community when the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” known as DSM-5, added the diagnosis last year.

So do cappuccino lovers need to worry about limiting their consumption?

One expert, Matthew Johnson, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, explains how caffeine works in the body and when to cut back.

Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, a neuromodulator in the brain that puts the brakes on excitatory neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. “Caffeine allows these stimulating chemicals to flow, which can have a rousing effect, even at very low doses,” says Dr. Johnson, a psychopharmacologist who studies the influence of drugs on behavior and mood.

Some people will get edgy from a weak cup of tea. For others, a double espresso is required to get them into the shower in the morning.

Most coffee drinkers are familiar with at least some symptoms of overindulging—nervousness, excitement, insomnia, rambling thoughts. But a large majority of people who consume caffeine don’t experience severe consequences, Dr. Johnson says.

There are some case reports of students experiencing major anxiety after drinking a dozen cups of coffee, Dr. Johnson says. But overdosing would be difficult, “unless folks took multiple caffeine pills or drank many cans of energy drinks” such as Red Bull.

It is possible for a person to die from too much caffeine, “but that would mean about 14,000 milligrams, or around 140 8-ounce cups of coffee in one day,” Dr. Johnson says. Consuming that much would be difficult because of coffee’s self-limiting nature. “One cup makes you feel good and alert, but five cups may make you feel like your stomach is cramping,” he says. “You feel wired and you wouldn’t typically be able to go overboard.”

While clinicians may observe benefits and risks of caffeine intake, the effects are still being debated in academic circles, Dr. Johnson says. “The evidence that unfiltered coffee increases LDL cholesterol levels is convincing,” he says, referring to the “bad” type of cholesterol. “But it’s the mortality studies that count the most,” he says.

One study suggests mortality benefits at up to six cups of coffee a day, Dr. Johnson says. Another suggested mortality risks in people under 55 who drink more than four cups a day. As a result, “I would be hesitant to say that we’ve reached any final answer,” he says.

Current research into depression has looked closely at glutamate, one of the neurotransmitters affected by caffeine, Dr. Johnson says. “In a recent study, those who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee had fewer depressive symptoms, and the opposite was true for those who lowered their intake,” he says. That doesn’t mean depressed patients would benefit from a steady diet of triple lattes. “If a patient is depressed and predisposed to panic attacks, for example, caffeine might make the condition worse,” he says.

The most convincing evidence indicates you’re probably not at risk for major side effects if you consume up to about four 8-ounce cups of filtered coffee, or around 400mg, early in the day, Dr. Johnson says. “If you’re drinking under four cups a day and not having any side effects, then you’re probably OK,” he says.

Source: Coffee & Bean (Part of the TwinStar Media Network)