Tea vs coffee – which cuppa should you be drinking?


READING this with a mug of coffee in your hand? Then you have permission to feel smug. The latest pan-European research, led by epidemiologist Dr Marc Gunter of Imperial College, London – following a study of more than half a million people over 16 years – has shown that those who drank the most coffee had a reduced risk of premature death from any cause.
But what if you’re reaching for a cuppa char instead? Don’t panic: a compound in black tea could help gut bacteria fight infections and prevent severe influenza, say scientists at the Washington University School of Medicine in the latest issue of the journal, Science.
It’s good to know that the nation’s two favourite hot drinks can be healthy – but which one would be best for you?
If you want to live longer, pop the kettle on. The latest study on coffee backs up evidence from the National Institutes of Health, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2012, which reported that, compared with men who did not drink coffee, men who drank six or more cups per day had a 10 per cent lower risk of death, whereas women in this category of consumption had a 15 per cent lower risk.
But regular tea drinkers have also been found to live longer than average. An Australian study published in The Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015 showed that women in their 70s and 80s lived longer if they had the equivalent of two cuppas a day. This may be due to a unique compound in tea that can change the body’s genetic code.
Weronica Ek, from Uppsala University, whose study was published in Human Molecular Genetics in May, found that regular tea- (but not coffee) drinking is associated with epigenetic changes in 28 different gene regions known to interact with cancer or oestrogen metabolism.
Both coffee and tea contain lots of antioxidants called polyphenols, nutrients that can help to reduce inflammation and repair cellular damage. Dr Bob Arnot, whose latest bestseller The Coffee Lover’s Diet (HarperCollins, £18.99) reveals how to get the most health benefits from the drink, explains: “We know now that the driving force behind many illnesses such as heart disease and stroke is inflammation, which is something polyphenols can help with. And coffee contains two and half times more polyphenols than tea on average.”

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