Tea vs. Coffee — Which Is Better For You?

Tea healthier than coffee? The jury is still out.
Tea healthier than coffee? The jury is still out.

Which is healthier – coffee or tea? It’s a topic that probably can’t be adequately addressed within the confines of a short blog post, but it’s an interesting subject to examine nonetheless. First off, I’d like to place myself firmly in that camp — and I’m sure I won’t be alone — of those people who wouldn’t switch to coffee no matter how healthy it is and who will only give up their tea when it’s pried from their cold, dead fingers.

But I digress. My decision to look at this topic was motivated by a recent Fox News article, which posed the same question. Initially, the article suggests that “it depends,” but does not elaborate and goes on to suggest that coffee is healthier. Among the reasons given are coffee’s ability to reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease. See my article on tea and Parkinson’s disease here.

The article also notes that coffee is high in antioxidants, a quality known to be shared by tea, and may help lower “bad” cholesterol. See my latest article on tea and cholesterol here. If you’re thinking that it sounds like many of the benefits cited for coffee also apply to tea, consider that the author of the article switches gears (sort of) later on and claims that green tea is healthier than coffee. Ultimately their conclusion is that coffee trumps black tea in health benefits but green tea takes the gold medal overall.

Which doesn’t really tell us too much, except that this is a matter that can probably only be resolved by an in-depth, controlled study of the research on the topic. Which doesn’t stop various media outlets from engaging in their own speculation on the matter. An ABC News article from a few years back gives coffee some points on health but claims that tea is healthier. A Time magazine column from Dr. Andrew Weil examines the benefits of both but does not come down on one side or the other. A Psychology Today article essentially comes to the same conclusion, but gives tea a slight edge over coffee. The one actual study I was able to locate, by a team of Australian researchers, also gives the nod to tea, but suggests that more data is needed to make a definitive conclusion.

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