Coffee vs Green Tea: Should you switch today or hold onto that cup of joe?
Coffee and green tea each have unique benefits and either can be part of a healthy lifestyle.
Many people debate giving up their coffee for green tea. While green tea does have some specific advantages over coffee, coffee does still contain health benefits and neither drink should be elevated as the only good choice for a morning beverage.
How many of us love to start the day with a caffeinated pick-me-up? Guilty! And the perennial question that results is: what is the best caffeinated drink? Let us explore some of the pros and cons of consuming coffee or tea.
One very relevant difference is that coffee contains far more caffeine than green tea. According to Healthline, “An 8-ounce (240 mL) serving of coffee provides 96 mg of caffeine, while the same amount of green tea provides 29 mg.” Paying attention to serving size here is crucial. If you get a Grande from a coffee shop, you’re now talking about 16 ounces of coffee or 192 mg of caffeine. And a single ounce shot of espresso has about 64 mg of caffeine (which is a favorite addition to many a morning coffee).
Why do we even reach for caffeine? It acts as a central nervous system stimulant so it gives us a boost of energy and focus. Caffeine can improve performance time and enhance memory. If we consume too much (or more than we are used to), however, it can make us jittery, cause an elevated heart rate, increase bowel movement frequency and disrupt sleep. Excess caffeine can worsen anxiety or panic disorders, routine use can lead to a dependency over time and subsequent cessation can cause headaches and other withdrawal symptoms.
Caffeine by itself is not entirely bad. Many studies suggest that up to 400 mg of caffeine per day is safe for adults (except for pregnant women who should stay below 100 mg). Teenagers, children and sensitive individuals should definitely consume much less than 400 mg as well. Unfortunately, studies are constantly released that provide evidence both for and against coffee consumption. Some state that up to four cups per day can provide neuro-protective effects and increase longevity. Other studies state that no caffeine is the healthier choice. So, what are we to do?
Mostly I advise my patients to consider the various pros and cons of coffee or green tea. Coffee has certain antioxidants that can be beneficial for overall health. Green tea is generally considered to have a slight edge in this regard, however. Green tea has similar antioxidants to coffee but also contains L-Theanine which is an amino acid that promotes a calm alertness. This, coupled with its lower caffeine content mean that green tea users are at a lower risk of the detrimental side effects coffee-drinkers may experience.
Coffee is a darker drink and therefore more staining to the enamel of our teeth so there is a cosmetic consideration. Caffeine tends to energize our bowels so coffee may be great for someone who has trouble staying regular but may not be great for those individuals with overactive bowels or a sensitive stomach. Caffeine also increases stomach acid production and so may need to be avoided in those people dealing with stomach ulcers.
Another major issue with these types of drinks is all the stuff we add to them. Large amounts of sugar, creamer, half-and-half, flavored syrups, espresso, etc. add to our daily intake of sugar, fat and calories. I think we sometimes forget that calories we drink count the same as calories we eat. A Grande flavored latte at a coffee shop can easily contain 40-50 g of sugar, which is more than a Coke and equal to the recommended daily max for sugar intake.
The conclusion is that there is no stock answer to the question of sticking with coffee or switching to green tea. If you are relying on caffeine to start your day because you are not getting enough sleep, then I would advise you to prioritize a minimum of 7 hours of sleep and then see if you want to keep your caffeine habit. Staying below 1-2 cups of tea or coffee and minimizing the high-sugar and high-fat additives is also good advice. But if giving up your morning cup of joe is an unbearable thought, rest assured, coffee is not the demon it is sometimes painted to be.