A colleague lately came to me asking whats better: coffee or tea? She told me that she( a coffee drinker) and her boyfriend( more of a tea guy) were debating which beverage is healthier, each believing their own personal preference was the more virtuous option.

Its a good topic because it seems like every day theres news about the health benefits of one or the other, but you never assure the two compared.

The truth: there isnt a clear standout. Both of these uniquely healthy pick-me-ups have their own long listing of health prosand cons. Below, I go over the reasons to sip one or the other, along with tips-off for get the most out of each one.

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The pros: Tea boasts a long listing of health benefits. The rich antioxidants in tea fight inflammation, and have been shown to help prevent blood vessels from hardening. Tea drinkers have a significantly lower hazard of stroke and heart disease, and tea is known to boost brain health. One survey, for example, found that compared with older adults who drank less than three cups a week, the individuals who drank more than two cups of green tea a day had a significantly lower hazard of age-related declines in memory.

Regular tea drinkers also have higher bone density levels and slower rates of bone loss.

Overall its associated with anti-aging: research shows that the cells of regular tea drinkers have a younger biological age than non-drinkers. Pretty potent stuff!

The cons: The first one is purely cosmeticstained teeth.

Another is the potential impact on your iron levels due to tanins, a type of antioxidant that interferes with the absorption of non-heme, or plant-based iron from foods like greens and beans. In one classic 1982 survey drinking tea with a snack resulted in a 62 percentage reduction in iron absorption compared to 35 percentage for coffee.

Finally, if youre sensitive to it, the caffeine in tea may also be a con, although the levels are lower than coffee. One cup or eight ounces of black tea contains 14 -7 0 mg of caffeine, and green tea 24 -4 5 mg, compared to 95 -2 00 mg in the same sized section of coffee.

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Healthy prep tips-off

The most important tip-off for tea is to limit or avoid adding sweetener. Enjoy it hot or iced, and if you need a little sweetness add a splash of 100 percent fruit juice. You can also add flavor with a little bit of natural seasoning, like fresh grated ginger, or fresh mint. Each of these also boosts the antioxidant potency in your mug.

As for the iron issue, if youre an omnivore this is less of a matter of concern since tannins do not impact the uptake of animal-based heme iron may be in meat, fish, and poultry. But if you are vegetarian or vegan the best way to offset potential impacts is to devour your iron-rich plant foods with a source of vitamin C. In the same survey, OJ upped iron absorption by 85 percentage. Other top vitamin C sources include buzzer peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels buds, kiwi, and strawberries.


Pros: The good news about coffee merely holds on coming. A brand new Harvard study found that those who drink about three to five cups of coffee a day may be less likely to die prematurely from some diseases than the individuals who drink less or no coffee. A rich source of antioxidants, regular coffee consumption has furthermore been linked to protection against type 2 diabetes, Parkinsons, and certain cancers.

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Cons : Natural substances in unfiltered coffee( meaning simmered or espresso) have been shown to raise cholesterol levels slightly. Also coffee is more acidic than tea, so if you have stomach or digestive issues you may tolerate tea better.

Coffee has long had a reputation for bone issues, but it remains unclear how significant the effects are. One survey found that a high intake of coffeefour or more cups a dayreduced bone density by 2-4 percent, but the effect didnt translate to an increased risk of fracture. However, if you already have low bone density coffee consumption is something you should discuss with your physician.

The remaining cons of coffee are principally tied to its caffeine content, which again is higher than in tea. Caffeine is a stimulant, so if youre sensitive to it coffee may leave you feeling too induced, jittery, and anxious. If you have high blood pressure, you should restriction your caffeine intake because caffeine can cause a short, but dramatic spike in blood pressure.

Also two or more cups of coffee a day can up the risk of heart disease in people with a fairly common genetic mutation, which slackens the breakdown of caffeine in the body. Regrettably the testing for this is limited, and not typically offered by physicians offices. One company, affiliated with the University of Toronto, offers a test through registered dietitians, but it will likely be an out of pocket expense.

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Finally, coffee is a known diuretic, meaning it flushes water from the body. Research has demonstrated that your body can adjust to a regular habit, but if you merely have it once in a while, or you have more than usual, it could leave you dehydrated.

Healthy prep tips-off

Again, sugar and other coffee adds are a big issue. Fancy coffees doctored up with syrups, milk, and whipped cream can easily add up to more calories than a meal should provide: 540 for a Starbucks grande peppermint white chocolate mocha made with 2 percent milk and whipped cream. Thats 140 more than a salad from Chipotle made with romaine, black beans, fajita veggies, salsa, and guacamole. Im not in favor of using artificial sweeteners due to their potential impact on appetite and blood sugar regulation, as well as gut health.

I advise my coffee loving clients to add a little plant-based milk, a minimal quantity or no added sugar, and a sprinkling of an antioxidant-rich spice like cinnamon.

RELATED: 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine

The bottom line

Stick with what youre partial to, take the cons into account, and be sure you arent employing the caffeine in either tea or coffee as a crutch, to mask fatigue from too little sleep. While you are eligible to get a benefit from employing caffeine pre-exercise its best to cut off caffeine totally at the least six hours before bed for optimal sleep. And if either beverage leaves you feeling zapped of energy, either from the caffeine or what youre adding to it, wean down your intake and up the H2O, the ultimate health-boosting beverage.

Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor. She privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is also the athletics nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is committee certified as an expert in athletics dietetics . This article originally appeared on Health.com .

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