Coffee vs. Tea: Which One Is Better for You?

Tea is the second most popular beverage in the world, after water. And coffee is, well, the best part of just waking up and getting through the day, for many of us. But if you’re looking for a warm (or iced) beverage with physical and mental health benefits, which should you choose? The good news is that both beverages—tea and coffee—have proven health benefits, but just like with everything else, you may want to consume in moderation. Or at least, switch off between coffee and tea, if that’s your caffeine vibe. Here’s which drink, coffee or tea, is best throughout your day.

Health Benefits

“One can argue that both coffee and tea have potential health benefits, but the overall benefits of each depend on factors such as the type of coffee or tea, how it was grown, the brewing method, and the amount consumed,” says Ilana Muhlstein, RDN. Drinking coffee has been proven to have multiple health benefits, including reducing inflammation and supporting heart and gut health.

“Drinking coffee has also been associated with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that regular coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease,” says Muhlstein. “A meta-analysis of studies published in the journal Diabetes Care found that moderate coffee consumption was associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”

“Tea similarly has been studied for its association in reducing heart disease risk. A meta-analysis of studies published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that tea consumption was associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. It has also been widely studied for its association with a reduced cancer risk. A study published in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, found that tea consumption was associated with a reduced risk of certain cancers, including ovarian and breast cancer.”

While neither beverage contains fiber, you can enjoy them with a fiber-filled snack (such as whole grain toast or fruit) or even stir a powdered fiber supplement into your coffee or tea to amp up the fiber content.


Caffeine Content

Coffee and tea both contain caffeine. A standard 8-ounce cup of coffee contains about 95 milligrams of caffeine, while a cup of black tea has about 50 milligrams, and green tea has about 30 milligrams. That means coffee has twice as much caffeine as the same amount of black tea, and over three times the amount of caffeine as green tea.


“While tea also contains caffeine and has been shown to improve cognitive function and alertness, the addition of theanine, an amino acid, gives tea the added benefit of reducing stress,” Muhlstein says. If you’re about to embark on a major project or need a laser level of focus, black or green tea may be your ideal go-to beverage—no caffeine trembles and reduced stress will help you make it to the project finish line.

“Green tea is one of the richest sources of powerful antioxidants, called polyphenols, that have been shown to have potential for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers,” Muhlstein says. “You can find caffeine-free green tea or herbal tea for those who are sensitive to caffeine but want the other health benefits associated with tea.”


“Coffee contains caffeine, which has been shown to help improve focus and cognitive function,” Muhlstein says. However, if you over-caffeinate, you may begin to feel adverse effects.

“Too much caffeine consumed in coffee can lead to increased anxiety, insomnia, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure,” Muhlstein adds. “Coffee is also acidic and needs to be avoided by many people who experience acid reflux and gastrointestinal issues.”

Your best choice of coffee or tea is one without flavored additives or sweetener, which can lead to a sugar rush and subsequent crash. “If you would like to add sweetness to your coffee or tea, a natural sweetener, such as honey or coconut sugar, can also be used when mindful of portions,” Mulhstein shares.

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