Though it has been popular in Asia for centuries, it is only relatively recently that green tea has gained a foothold in the hearts and minds of the West. Often lauded for its many health benefits, green teas’ reputation as a superfood is well-deserved, however, the appreciation of it has highlighted the underappreciation of another superfood that has been under our noses the entire time: Coffee.
Though their reputations are very different, in practical terms green tea and black coffee are pretty evenly matched. This may seem like heresy to those who swear by green tea and have sworn off coffee, but there is more than enough research out there to back the claim up
Without the inclusion of sugar, milk, syrup or any other commonly used complement, coffee is, in fact, an incredibly healthy choice. Naturally fat-free and packed full of antioxidants, antibacterial agents and minerals, various studies have shown that frequently drinking black coffee can help to keep diseases at bay. We’re not just talking about the common cold either, as Regular coffee consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson’s Disease, colon cancer, rectal cancer, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
The benefits of drinking coffee can even be found on a day-to-day basis. For instance, drinking black coffee before exercising increases stamina and drinking it after can reduce the pain of delayed onset muscle soreness by up to 48%. For those who live with asthma, the caffeine found in coffee relaxes the small muscles in the lungs’ airways to make breathing easier and more comfortable. Lastly, for those who struggle to lose weight and keep it off, coffee can help to prevent weight gain by reducing feelings of hunger.
Based on the above, it is hard to deny that both coffee and green tea deserve the title of ‘Superfood’, but is one more super than the other? To answer this question properly, we’ll need to break them down and take a closer look at what they to offer.
Green tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee, with even green matcha tea (where the whole tea leaf is consumed rather than just the water it is steeped in) possessing only around 50% of the caffeine than the average espresso. The concentration of caffeine is not the only relevant factor, however, as the L-Theanine found in green tea causes the effects of caffeine to be more drawn out.
This basically means that while coffee gives a more intense hit, drinking green tea provides more sustained yet less potent effects. In exercise terms, drink coffee if you’re a sprinter and green tea if you’re a marathon runner.
In terms of sheer quantity, a cup of coffee contains higher levels of antioxidants than the same sized cup of green tea. However, it is recommended that you drink no more than four cups of coffee daily, whereas it is generally considered safe to drink upwards of five cups of green tea a day.
If you’re fond of hot beverages and regularly drink them throughout the day, green tea may actually end up being your richer source of antioxidants. If, on the other hand, you’re like the majority of the UK and drink between 1 and 3 cups of tea or coffee a day, your best bet would definitely be coffee.
Coffee possesses Vitamins B-5 and B-2, which help to reduce inflammation, more effectively absorb nutrients from food, produce red blood cells, and improve physical healing. In addition to possessing Vitamin B-2, Green tea also contains Vitamin C and Vitamin E, both of which are potent antioxidants. Vitamin C also helps to maintain healthy skin.
Green tea may have more variety when it comes to vitamins, but their combined antioxidant effect is still not enough to combat that of Coffees’. Antioxidative effects aside, the vitamins found in green tea assist the body by maintaining good health, while those found in coffee lean more toward helping the body recover from injuries and illness.
Coffee and green tea share a very similar mineral profile, with both containing similar levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. While each also contains small traces of other minerals that are unique to them, the above are the only ones present in any sort quantity that would make a difference. These four minerals each play an active role as biological regulators and assist the body with things like protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
We don’t think it’d be a copout to say that both green tea and coffee are as super as one another, however, it is clear they also have their own distinct characteristics. Green tea is known to calm and relax drinkers, whereas drinking coffee is synonymous with being energetic and alert. The physical effects of the two drinks, resulting from the components mentioned above, are in keeping with their reputations, and would be equally appealing to different people depending on their lifestyles.