Tea and coffee, the comparative properties
Why choose between tea and coffee when it is possible to drink both of them at different times of the day?
Sure, it’s not always easy to understand which is the most appropriate moment for drinking one or the other, but their properties and their effect on our bodies can help us to choose.
After having told you about the delicious Yuanyang, the drink from Hong Kong which combines tea and coffee, today, along with the dietician Francesco Arcidiacono we are going to get to know both of these drinks a little better from a nutritional point of view.
Tea and coffee, to top up our energy levels
Tea and coffee actually have many characteristics in common: for example, they both have an energizing power which, however, acts with slightly different timing.
“Coffee, thanks to its caffeine content, has a more rapid effect, while tea has a more bland and more sustained effect over time”.
So, there are moments when it it is advisable to drink coffee : it is perfect, for example, before any activity which requires a lot of movement, but also for a mid-morning break.
Tea, on the other hand , invece, is ideal to include as part of a healthy and balanced breakfast which helps us to face the day with the right energy levels. “I often recommend this- adds the dietician – specifically in the morning because, we should remember, tea without sugar can contribute to hydration which is an aspect often neglected”.
Coffee protects from liver cancer
There are very interesting scientific studies which have found that coffee acts as a protective agent against the risk of developing liver cancer.
According to reports by the Veronesi Foundation, it has been seen that moderate coffee consumption (fewer than three cups a day) can reduce the risk of developing a type of liver cancer (the very common hepatocellular carcinoma) by 40%.
This is probably due to the caffeine, which is also a good ally for the heart.
There is also an interesting article which reviews scientific literature published in the European Journal of Epidemiology and which observes how limited coffee consumption can, in general, reduce the risk of mortality for many causes, but also the incidence of cardiovascular pathologies.
However, we asked doctor Arcidiacono to define the expression “moderate consumption”: “with this term we are talking about drinking fewer than 4 cups a day, in a healthy person who does not suffer from any specific pathologies, without sugar and, if possible, in the first part of the day, so as not to create the possibility of sleep problems”.
Coffee can also be useful in the case of certain types of headaches or before physical training sessions: “because it is a vasoconstrictor.
But this is an indication which can vary from person to person and so it is a good idea to consult a doctor”
Tea for purifying and hydrating
Tea in general, but above all green tea, is well-known for its precious antioxidant properties.
“In this case, what makes the difference is the presence of epigallocatechin gallate, an important molecule that the Ministry of Health included in the document “Other nutrients and other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect”.
There are many recognized properties of epigallocatechin: antioxidant, anti-cancer, neuroprotective and supportive of the cardiovascular system.
“Green tea is recommended for its antioxidant properties – specifies the doctor – because these molecules counteract the damage caused to cells every day.
Stress, sun exposure and physical activity are all things which can stress our bodies; antioxidants are a great ally in combatting the effects of these kinds of stress”. Be careful though with the quantities: the Ministry of Health has established a maximum daily intake of 300 mg, which drops to 120 mg for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
In contrast to coffee, tea may be prescribed as treatment for gastrointestinal disorders and it is also the better option for those suffering from hypertension: “unless otherwise indicated by your family doctor who may suggest alternatives such as decaffeinated coffee and theine-free tea”.
Arcidiacono concludes by highlighting how both tea and coffee, in healthy subjects, are drinks that have no serious contra-indications: “actually, I should recommend drinking tea and coffee regularly because they have positive effects, taking care to remember not to add sugar, because we often tend to add too much and this can damage our bodies”.