An antioxidant is a phytochemical and can be found in plants as well as in fruit and vegetables. It helps protect healthy body tissue matter from potentially harmful oxidants which we put into our body inadvertently. By drinking tea or coffee, preferably in its natural state with no additives, we are actually taking antioxidants into our bodily system and helping to combat any harmful oxidants we have added. Hence, we are in a sense, detoxing our body.
So what is best for our body? Is it tea or coffee? This is a debate which has been raging for years, if not decades.
On the one hand, we have coffee which contains quinines and Chlorogenic acid. These are the main antioxidants found in coffee. It also contains trigonelline which is an anti-bacterial compound.
Studies have shown that these antioxidants found in coffee are beneficial in fighting off the risk of liver and colon cancer. It has also been found to help fight off symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, gout and also type 2 diabetes.
However, a word of caution since coffee contains more caffeine than tea, it can have a detrimental effect, if too much is consumed. Studies have shown there could be an increased risk of a miscarriage in pregnant women if too much caffeine is consumed. But as with everything it is fine if taken in moderation or a de-caff alternative is found. In fact, a study in America found a link between increased coffee consumption and a drop in the suicide rate. However, this is not conclusive and can only be wondered at. It is worth noting that an 8oz cup of coffee contains 85mg of caffeine compared to 40mg of caffeine in a similar size cup of tea.
On the other hand, we have tea. The best type of tea is green tea or black tea. Tea is particularly high and rich in polyphenols or flavonoids. These are antioxidants and, in fact, tea can contain 10 times the amount of polyphenols found in fruit and vegetables. However, you cannot substitute tea for fruit and vegetables since our body also requires the fibres these items provide. But wash down your five a day with a cup of green tea and you cannot go wrong!
The antioxidants found in tea can help reduce the risk of ovarian and breast cancer in women. It has also found to decrease the instances of death from heart-related complaints and found to help sufferers of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Tea leaves come from an evergreen plant called ‘Camellia sinensis’ and it is these leaves which contain the beneficial antioxidants. Therefore it is worth noting that many herbal teas are not actually teas at all. They are brews made from the roots or flowers of plants and contain herbs and spices for flavouring. Whilst not necessarily harmful, they do not contain the same amount of antioxidants found in tea made from leaves.
On a more interesting note, tea is the second most consumed drink in the world. It is second only to water and, of course, water is used in the brewing of tea.
As to whether tea or coffee is better for you, then the jury is still out. They both have beneficial effects and much will boil down to personal preference.
What about hot chocolate? Well it tastes great and millions of people recommend it be consumed prior to bedtime for a good nights rest.