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Health Benefits of Coffee vs. Tea

Coffee vs. Tea (inforgraphic courtesy prevention.com)

Some questions are bound to start debates. Red Sox or Yankees? Sauce or gravy? Democrat or Republican? Coffee or tea? That last one isn't just a matter of taste. The health benefits of tea have been advertised for years, while recent research is pointing to the fact that coffee has plenty of benefits in its own right. Is one better than the other? Well, let's find out.

The Health Benefits of Tea Tea can help regulate insulin levels, lowers levels of post-stroke brain damage, lowers breast cancer risk, fights heart disease and gingivitis, and aids in weight loss. Tea can reduce prostate cancer risk, and has been shown in some studies to have antiviral properties.

The Health Benefits of Coffee Coffee fights off skin cancer, Alzheimer's, depression, Parkinson's Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and heart disease. It has as many antioxidants as tea (some of which are the same, but there are some that are found only in coffee). Coffee has also been shown to aid in boosting muscle mass. The nutritional profile of coffee is also different, in that it contains carbohydrates, fats and proteins not found in tea.

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Both coffee and tea have one benefit that's been prized for milennia. They both wake us up, and keep us awake. That alertness aids concentration whether you're studying, staying up late, driving, or even meditating (there's a reason that monks and other spiritual seekers have long sought out caffeine).

Drawbacks of Coffee and Tea Onegreenplanet points out that coffee and tea do have some issues that drinkers should be aware of. Both coffee and tea contain caffeine, which is mildly addictive. It's also a diuretic, and isn't great for people with high blood pressure or certain heart problems. Both can also cause digestive issues. Coffee's roasting process leaves behind acrylamide, a known carcinogen, while tea contains aluminum and flouride, which are linked to Alzheimer's and bone density problems, respectively.

In conclusion

(infographic courtesy visual.ly)
In some ways, tea has a bit of a head start over coffee. After all, we've heard study after study on the health benefits of tea during a stretch of time that we were being told that drinking coffee was a one-way ticket to an early grave (okay, maybe that last bit is an exaggeration, but not by much). It's only in the last few years that research on coffee has started to gain traction to a point where the health benefits can be fully understood. In their unadulterated forms, neither is bad for you in moderation, and both can deliver significant health benefits. Of course, therein lies a small cautionary note. Once you start adulterating either coffee or tea -- adding artificial flavorings, creamers, chemicals, thickeners or massive amounts of sugar like you'd get in a bottle of iced tea or a mocha latte -- the benefit vanishes like steam from a bathroom mirror. So unless you can't stand one or the other, why not enjoy both?