Both coffee and tea have their fiercely loyal fans and each beverage has been touted with a long list of health and beauty benefits. But when it comes to java versus tea, is there truly a winner?
Coffee Benefits: For many people, the mind-clearing bliss of that first sip in the morning is benefit enough. But while you enjoy your morning java, consider all you’re gaining.
|Skin Cancer: Coffee may protect against skin cancer, according to one study, by absorbing harmful rays and promoting cell repair. Another study found that a cup a day lowered the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer by nearly 11 percent.
|Cellulite: Applied topically, caffeine (usually available in the highest doses in coffee) may help smooth cellulite. In one study, caffeine increased microcirculation, though the research is still tentative.
|Depression: A study found that drinking three cups of coffee daily lowered women’s relative risk of depression by 15 percent; 20 percent for those who nabbed a fourth cup.
|Endrometrial Cancer: Consuming java lowers insulin and estrogen levels, lessening the risk of endometrial cancer.
|Stress: Having a cup of Joe makes women more effective partners in a stressful situation (In the “OMG!” news category: caffeinated men were actually less helpful).
|Type 2 Diabetes: Coffee may help you dodge type 2 diabetes. One UCLA study found that women who drank four cups of coffee per day were 56 percent less likely to develop the disease than non-drinkers.
|Alzheimer’s: Drinking coffee in midlife helps reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.
|Parkinson’s Disease: Research shows the caffeine in coffee is associated with a significantly lower incidence of Parkinson’s disease in men.
|Heart Disease: Drinking coffee may help your heart. A Dutch study found that moderate coffee drinkers (two to four cups daily) had a 20 percent lower risk of heart disease than those who drank less or more than that amount.
|Indigestion: If java gives you heartburn, here’s good news: Researchers found that dark roasts contain a substance that inhibits production of stomach acid, making your espresso more tummy-friendly.
Tea Benefits: The mindful ritual that often accompanies drinking tea can be reward enough, but isn’t it nice to know you’re sipping down so many other benefits?
|Cancer: Tea contains killer antioxidants. Green tea is thought to contain the highest concentration of polyphenols, antioxidants that neutralize free radicals, which damage cells and contribute to cancer. They protect against skin damage, too!
|Hair: A chamomile rinse is a popular folk beauty treatment, reputed to add a golden sheen to blonde hair.
|Parkinson’s: Tea has brain boosting benefits. Green tea’s phytochemicals protect neurons that produce dopamine in the brain, which may help prevent Parkinson’s disease.
|Heart Disease: Tea may help prevent heart disease. A 2001 study on mice found that regular consumption of substances in green tea called catechins helped prevent the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
|Skin Damage: Its high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content makes green tea a popular component of anti-aging skin creams and serums, good for protecting against UV damage.
|Stroke: Animal studies show that two tannins in green tea appear to help reduce the brain damage that occurs after a stroke and other brain injuries.
|Insulin: According to a 2002 study, drinking tea (black, green or oolong—not herbal blends) can significantly increase insulin-enhancing activity. The benefits don’t last long, so you’d need to tea-up frequently, but sans milk of any kind, which seems to block the positive effects.
|Puffy Eyes: Cold (damp) tea bags placed on closed eyes help reduce puffiness, thanks to the combination of a cool temperature and slight pressure.
|Weight Loss: Daily consumption of green tea may help lower body fat, according to a 2005 study. Another study found that consuming green tea extract not only reduced body fat, but also lowered systolic blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
|Breast Cancer: A 2005 review of breast cancer and tea studies found that green tea is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer. However, green and black teas may also conflict with chemotherapy drugs, so some doctors recommend avoiding them during this type of treatment.
|Liver Disease: It loves your liver. Studies suggest that drinking more than 10 cups of green tea per day helps protect against liver disorders. Green tea may also protect the liver from alcohol damage.
|Gingivitis: Drinking one or more cups of green tea per day may help prevent gingivitis and tooth loss, according to a Japanese study.
|Heart Disease: Research shows that people who sip three to six cups of tea daily are 45 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those who drink less than a cup per day.
And the winner is…It’s a tie! Both beverages rack up their own impressive stats, but there are so many studies out there and the amounts measured were so variable (who drinks seven cups of coffee a day without having to be peeled off the ceiling?), that we can only conclude—non-scientifically—that it seems like coffee and tea are both good for you in many ways. Especially when you use good sense and limit the fat and sugar content of accompaniments.