Apr 20, 2022
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Coffee or tea? Facts and myths

Coffee or tea?  Facts and myths

This seemingly trivial question prompts us to reconsider the results of studies on the properties of both drinks. Result? Here are some myths debunked.

A small amount of black tea or a cup of tea with lemon symbolizes relaxation.

They are often prepared according to favorite rituals and drunk to relax alone or in the company of family or friends. Both drinks contain very valuable ingredients for the body, such as B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and many other micro and macro elements. For example, one cup of coffee provides up to 3 mg of vitamin B3, which is about 20% of the daily requirement! Unfortunately, coffee and tea can also be addictive. Therefore, it is worth checking whether the prevailing opinions about them correspond to the facts.

No tea other than green tea has health benefits.

Yes, green tea contains the most catechins, which contains about 53 mg of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) per gram, in black tea it is present in an amount of 4 mg / g, and in red – 2 mg / g. However, red tea has the most gallic acid (GA), at about 6 mg/g. It acts similarly to EGCG in that it lowers lipid levels in the body by inhibiting endogenous cholesterol production and reducing the susceptibility to oxidation of already existing LDL. So all kinds of tea are good for health. They will not rejuvenate overnight, but will certainly help eliminate the effects of stressors and pathogens.

Both coffee and tea negatively affect the heart and circulatory system.

Studies in recent years clearly show that coffee and tea (mostly green) have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system, especially when it comes to the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis. Satisfactory results have also been achieved in studies of coffee in the context of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. People who drink up to three cups of coffee a day are less likely to develop these conditions. Meanwhile, studies in the 1980s and 1990s suggested limiting daily coffee and tea intake.

Why such a discrepancy? This is probably because they did not take into account the impact on the health of other unfavorable habits of patients, such as smoking or unhealthy diet, or diseases already present in the participants of the experiments, such as obesity or advanced atherosclerosis. Inaccurate selection criteria for volunteers in research groups did not allow to obtain correct results.

Adding milk to coffee and tea increases the health value of these drinks.

It is estimated that up to 80% of people drink their morning coffee with milk or cream, and at least 40% of people like tea mixed with one third of milk. Meanwhile, adding milk to coffee or tea reduces the beneficial effects of both drinks on the body. They contain antioxidants, flavonoids, and catechins, which improve circulation, help prevent heart disease, and protect against certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, in the process of digestion, beneficial elements are absorbed by the proteins present in milk. The study leaves no room for doubt, and the same applies to soy milk. Maybe you should give up old habits? The human body cannot produce flavonoids and catechins, it is necessary to supply them to the body from the outside.

Coffee and tea help you lose weight.

From the bloodstream, caffeine enters the brain, where it stimulates the production of dopamine and other neurotransmitters. This increases the motivation to act, causing the person to become more energetic. Unfortunately, this effect wears off after a while. However, the fact that caffeine speeds up metabolism by up to 11% remains unchanged. Stimulating the metabolism in the body improves well-being, affects activity, and there is a desire to go for a walk, meet friends or return to training in the gym. All this leads to faster burning of calories and promotes weight loss. It is no coincidence that most metabolic boosting supplements contain caffeine.

Coffee and tea are dangerous acidifiers for the body.

It should be remembered that buffer mechanisms exist in the blood, which have a protective effect and do not allow its pH to change. Nevertheless, excessive consumption of coffee or tea (both black and green) causes acidification of intercellular fluids, although in this case the body is not completely defenseless – it has a number of negative ions at its disposal that perform an alkalizing function. In addition, green vegetables, among other things, have deoxidizing properties, so eating them in the form of salads or cocktails restores the acid-base balance of the body.
Due to its composition, green tea can be considered as a dietary supplement.

Green tea contains almost 8g of polyphenolic compounds per 100g of dry leaves, which equates to about 100mg of polyphenols in one cup of this drink. Among them are derivatives of catechins. The most valuable is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has up to 8 hydroxyl groups (OH), making it a much stronger antioxidant than the famous vitamin E (tocopherol), which contains only one OH group. Thus, drinking green tea prevents the development of stress-related diseases, which also include degenerative and autoimmune diseases.
In addition, polyphenols reduce the activity of carcinogens responsible for the development of cancer. This is due to their ability to neutralize free radicals before they can damage the cell. However, if cancer does develop, polyphenols inhibit cancer angiogenesis, that is, the formation of blood vessels that feed the tumor. In 1986-1990, a study was conducted in Japan with the participation of 8.5 thousand people over 40 years old. Scientists have found that drinking green tea lowers blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improves the ratio between good (HDL) and bad (LDL) cholesterol.

Coffee after dinner causes insomnia.

This is only partly a myth. Nutrigenomics and pharmacogenetics are new branches of science that inform about the effect of food and substances contained in drugs on genes. For example, people with fast-acting CYP1A2, even if they drink several cups of coffee a day, and the last one before bed, will not feel overly excited or nervous. They fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly.

On the other hand, people with a slow-acting CYP1A2 enzyme should only drink coffee in the morning and weak coffee, because a stronger one, such as espresso, can cause unpleasant effects in the form of hand tremors and insomnia. People are not the same, everyone’s organisms are different, so there is no unambiguous answer to the question: coffee or tea and at what time.

Coffee removes magnesium from the body.

This harmful myth about coffee originated from the advertising efforts of companies offering magnesium supplements for coffee. They convince consumers that if they do not add two teaspoons of this magnesium-fortified substance to their drink, its deficiency will adversely affect their health. The manipulation has borne fruit – the myth has taken hold. Magnesium is one of the most important elements that contribute to the proper functioning of cells, so the reduction of its resources as a result of drinking coffee can actually threaten health. But does this drink work that way? According to a 2011 South Korean study, coffee is the main source of magnesium for Koreans aged 50 to 64! Tofu is only in second place, followed by rice.
A cup of instant coffee (200 ml) contains about 8 mg of magnesium, which is equivalent to 60 g of lettuce. This is not much, but espresso (more concentrated) contains 48 mg of this element. Delivering, not withdrawing! The daily requirement for magnesium for an adult is 420 mg, and although it is necessary to replenish its level mainly by including green vegetables (chard, spinach, cabbage, arugula, dill, parsley) in the diet, a few cups of coffee will also help.

Drinking coffee in the long term causes hypertension and also temporarily increases blood pressure.

Coffee has long been falsely blamed for this effect on the body. In a 2011 report looking at a 33-year study of more than 170,000 people, scientists found that drinking up to five cups of coffee a day did not increase the risk of high blood pressure. On the contrary, this serious disease developed faster in people who avoided coffee. 100 g of dry tea leaves contain 2 to 5 g of caffeine. Shortly after drinking this drink, caffeine enters the bloodstream and actually stimulates the heart and nervous system. Then it seems that you can move mountains, drowsiness and exhaustion disappear. However, there are no pressure surges that are hazardous to health.

Recent studies on theine and caffeine have shown that they are identically structured molecules, so both coffee drinkers and tea drinkers can consume their favorite beverages without arguing over whether coffee is superior to tea or vice versa. For the body, the result of such a dispute does not matter, in both cases it brings comparable benefits.

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