With two of the world’s favorite caffeine-packing beverages in the ring, this battle might seem like anybody’s call. But when it comes to choosing the better early morning brew, does coffee or green tea deserve the Greatist crown?
Meet The Competitors
Hailing from the camellia sinesis plant indigenous to mainland China, green tea is packed with powerful antioxidants called catechins, which have been shown to potentially inhibit the growth of some cancersA comparison of the morphological changes associated with conventional and sustained treatment with pigallocatechin3gallate, thymoquinone, and tannic acid on lncap cells. Richards, L.R., Jones, P., Beghuzzi, H., et al. University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Mississippi. Biomedical Sciences Instrumentation.2008; 44: 465-70.. Research also suggests long-term consumption of green tea might help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, and coronary diseaseBeneficial effects of green tea: a literature review. Chacko, S.M., Thambi, P.T., Kuttan, R., et al. NPO International Laboratory of Biochemistry, Nakagawa-ku, Nagoya, Japan. Chinese Medicine 2010 Apr 6; 5:13.. This mellower brew (with approximately 1/3 the caffeine of coffee) has also been linked to stress relief and clearer thinkingGreen tea consumption and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study from the Tsurugaya Project 1.Kuriyama, S., Hozawa, A., Ohmori, K., et al. Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2006 Feb; 83(2): 355-61.Green tea consumption is associated with lower psychological distress in a general population: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study. Hozawa, A., Kuriyama, S., Nakaya, N., et al. Division of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Forensic Medicine, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Japan. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2009 Nov; 90(5): 1390-6.. Guess they don’t call it “zen” for nothing.
Competition is just as fierce in the other corner. Coffee packs three times the caffeine of green tea and also boasts its own batch of beneficial antioxidants. Drinking java has even been linked to protecting against age-related mental declineCoffee consumption and human health–beneficial or detrimental?–Mechanisms for effects of coffee consumption on different risk factors for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Ranheim, T., Halvorsen, B. Department of Medical Genetics, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. Molecular Nutrition and Food Research 2005 Mar; 49(3): 274-84.. And as with green tea, antioxidants consumed when downing a Cup o’ Joe might also help reduce the risk of type II diabetesCoffee consumption is inversely associated with cognitive decline in elderly European men: the FINE Study. van Gelder, B.M., Buijsse, B., Tijhuis, M., et al. Centre for Prevention and Health Services Research, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 Feb; 61(2): 226-32..
While coffee may win a few more popularity points over its leafy green competitor — at least in the West — current research points to no clear-cut healthier choice. Since a significant body of research comes from population surveys as well as animal and in vitro studies, experts are hesitant to steer caffeine lovers in any one direction without more clinical trialsTea or coffee? A case study on evidence for dietary advice.Binns, CW., Lee, AH., Fraser, ML. School of Public Health, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, WA. Public Health Nutrition 2008 Nov; 11(11): 1132-41..
Studies do, however, deem both beverages 100 percent safe, as long as they’re consumed in moderation. Too much caffeine can lead to side effects including insomnia and upset stomach, so those with sleep or anxiety disorders and digestive problems might consider steering clear. For everyone else, three Venti Frappuchinos may be overdoing it, so catch up on safe caffeine intake (around 400mg per day for men, 300mg for women, and just 45mg for kids under 6) before pulling that all-nighterBeverage caffeine intake in US consumers and subpopulations of interest: estimates from the Share of Intake Panel survey. Knight, CA., Knight, I., Mitchell, DC, et al. Knight International, Chicago, IL. Food and Chemical Toxicology 2004 Dec; 42(12): 1923-30.. Green tea, specifically, also contains small amounts of vitamin K, which can make anticoagulant drugs less effective. Among coffee’s potential cons are decreased iron and calcium absorption and possible blood pressure spikes among infrequent drinkers.
And while the latest bottled and canned varieties of both drinks are enticing on-the-go, be sure to check the nutrition facts for added sugar, corn syrup, and fat.
Which buzz-worthy beverage gets your vote? Let us know in the comments below!