A cuppa is one of life's small pleasures, but there has always been some confusion about whether tea and coffee are good for you. With various studies claiming hot drinks can help you to lose weight (and keep it off!), protect against heart attacks, strokes and even Alzheimer's, we're keen to get to the bottom of the health benefits of tea and coffee!
Caffeine in tea
If you're wondering how much caffeine is in your daily cups of tea, the answer may not be as simple as you'd like.
That's because caffeine content can vary considerably based on factors such as what type of tea you're using and the method and length of brewing or steeping.
A cup of tea typically contains between 30 and 50 mg of caffeine - compared to 60-70mg in instant coffee - but one of the greatest impacts on caffeine content is the length of steeping time. So a tea steeped for five minutes in boiling water is going to transfer a lot more caffeine to the cup than a tea steeped for two minutes.
You'll also consume more caffeine if you like to squeeze your tea bag as it accelerates brewing - meaning more caffeine into your cuppa.
However, if you think you're caffeine free because you prefer a green tea then unfortunately you're mistaken. Green tea has surprisingly similar caffeine content to a typical cuppa, with 30-50mg per 230 ml serving.
However, herbal infusions, such as Chamomile and Peppermint, are naturally caffeine free.
While how much caffeine an individual should or should not consume varies greatly, 'research indicates that for a healthy adult, a moderate caffeine intake (of up to 400mg) poses no health risk, especially if we eat a balanced diet and enjoy regular physical activity.'
So now you know your caffeine content, here's a round up of the reasons why tea and coffee could be good for your health...
Reduce risk of Alzheimer's and dementiaScientists have found a potential link between drinking coffee and tea and combating degenerative brain diseases.
Caffeinated drinks contain caffeic acid, which reduces the accumulation of rogue proteins which clump together and destroy memory.
It can also reduce memory nerve cells dying, and maintains the levels of a certain signalling chemical.
Caffeic acid is found in coffee amongst other food and drink, and is one of the polyphenol compounds that are commonly found in the Mediterranean diet, which is known for it's health benefits.
A recent study has said that regular and moderate consumption of three to five coffees per day could slash the chance of dementia by up to 27%
Dr Iva Holmerova, vice chairperson of Alzheimer Europe, has said:
'The role of nutrition is an emerging area in Alzheimer's research and the potential benefits of drinking coffee, on both a nutritional and a social level, are increasingly being developed.'
Recent research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that coffee could be the answer to keeping weight off once you've lost it. Participants who consumed two to four cups of coffee per day were far more successful when it came to staying trim than their decaff equivalents.
According to research, when made without milk tea can help you to lose the weight in the first place, thanks to high levels of compounds that stop the absorption of fat. A study from the Anglia Ruskin University revealed that when combined with exercise, green tea can also help us shed the pounds when the group taking part found that green tea reduced their body fat by 1.6%.
'Caffeine consumers have a lower body mass index than those who consume little or no caffeine,' researchers explained.
'And high caffeine intake has also been linked with weight loss. Our research suggests it might also support maintenance of that weight loss.'
In recent months there's also been a huge rise in teas created specifically to aid the dieting process, with popular brands including Slendertoxtea, Bootea and Fit&Fast Slimming Tea (also known as 'teatoxes'). If a teatox isn't for you, it's worth knowing how many calories are in your normal tea and coffee choices, as it's so easy to forget that lots of hot drinks are crammed full of calories. Cutting out a latte or creamy mocha a day will help you keep trim.
Calories in tea and coffee
A longer life
A new study shows that drinking tea can help fight heart disease, improve your brain power, lower the risk of heart attacks and strokes and make you feel more alert and cheerful!
Dr Carrie Ruxton, who carried out the study, found that the caffeine in tea (and coffee) has antioxidants which give these health benefits. According to this study, you'll get these benefits if you drink up to 8 cups of tea (or 4 cups of coffee) per day.
Protection against diseaseSome research has suggested that drinking coffee regularly may help against a range of conditions: Gallstones, kidney stones, Type 2 diabetes, cirrhosis and liver damage.
Boosts your concentrationThe levels of caffeine in coffee make you more alert and actually improve your concentration - this is a really important thing to remember if you feel drowsy when you're driving.
The Department of Transport advises you to stop driving and then drink two cups of coffee, if you find yourself losing focus while you're at the wheel.
A healthier heart
A study by Greek scientists has shown that a cup of green tea takes just 30 minutes to widen an artery that runs from the shoulder to the elbow and this means that the risk of blood clots is reduced substantially. This is a good indicator of how blood flows round the body and especially to and from the heart.
Heart disease kills 230,000 people every year, which is equivalent to 1 in 3 of UK deaths. Tea contains antioxidants called flavonoids and these have been shown to slow down the effects and development of heart disease. So a couple of cups a day will help keep your ticker beating for longer.
Tooth decay and gum disease are a big problem in the UK, so the news that tea can help prevent that is great news. Tea benefits your teeth in three ways:
1. The fluoride that occurs naturally in tea strengthens the enamel in
2. The flavonoids protect your teeth against the build-up of bacteria
around the root of teeth and stop decay.
3. It's also thought that the tannin in tea stops the build-up of a gum
disease called caries.
Fights cancerCancer kills more than 120,000 people in the UK every year, with another 200,000 developing it. Certain studies have shown that drinking tea every day can play a role in warding off certain types of cancer.
- Some studies indicate that risk of prostate cancer is reduced if you
drink 6 cups of green tea each day.
- Oral cancer is lower among those people who regularly sup a cup.
- A study of the effects of green tea showed that it helped patients
- A number of studies have shown a link between drinking tea and a
reduced risk of breast cancer. Green tea seems to have a better effect
than black tea, but both work.
A recent study at City University London found that drinking a cup of tea after a stressful experience can reduce stress by 25% - because tea has a calming effect and it's a familiar routine.
Improves your memoryAs you get older, drinking green tea has even been shown to protect your brain against the development of Alzheimer's and dementia.
Fights dementiaResearch has produced evidence that just 3 cups of coffee a day can stop the effects of dementia in older women. A French study showed that it works best in those over the age of 65.
Lowers suicide riskStudies in California say that the risk of suicide drops by 13% or every cup you drink, up to a certain point. Separate research has shown that women who drink two cups of coffee a day are also half as likely to commit suicide.
However, if you regular suffer with high blood pressure, then experts advise that you avoid caffeine, because of the regular increases in blood pressure.