Often when we think unhealthy habits we should kick, we think coffee drinking is one of the main heavies to eradicate. The US government however, in their new dietary guidelines that came out this January (2016) included some coffee drinking and now the debate brews on whether coffee or tea is best for health.
An article in Vogue Magazine by Monica Kim, reviews this question, and attempts to make some final sense of the ongoing debate. One of the most vocal of the coffee advocates is Bulletproof Coffee’s Dave Asprey. He claims that drinking a moderate amount of coffee per day with the addition of grass-fed butter boosts his mental prowess. Plus, a study last year from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health said that drinking coffee in moderation (between 3-5 cups) has health improving benefits and will reduce your chances of dying prematurely from acquired illnesses. Coauthor of the study, Ming Ding, adds that the benefits are likely due to the antioxidants in coffee, which can reduce systemic inflammation and lower mortality. And she added that it appeared caffeine had no noticeable affect on efficacy of these benefits. However, the studies have not fully examined if or how the effect of milk and sugar has on the findings and they therefore suggest keeping these additions down to a minimum.
So what of tea? The benefits of tea have long been steeping in the often stated promise of green tea. Teas have been touted to increase mortality, health and even weight loss. Hasan Mukhtar, whose University of Wisconsin’s laboratory has been studying tea since 1989 holds that definitely it is tea that is better for our health.
“We have consistently found that topical application of the skin and oral administration of tea leads to significant reduction in cancer incidences.” He also adds “Polyphenolic compounds in tea like EGCG have been know to provide significant protection against radiation and sun damage, results that Mukhtar stresses have been repeatedly shown in many, many studies”. But debate still percolates through the science community and we are still left in the dark roast of the argument. Perhaps we should follow the advice of Steven Hatch M.D. who poignantly wrote in his book, ‘Snowball in a Blizzard: A Physicians Notes On Uncertainty in Medicine, “Whatever effects routine coffee consumption may have in these situations, they are likely to have a small impact and….are probably not worth changing your coffee habits immediately.”
So until the ongoing controversy finally boils over, it may be best that we should continue our tea and coffee drinking and simply keep it on the weaker side of consumption.