Sunday, March 25, 2012

Coffee or Tea?

Drink to Your Health

by Rachel Meltzer Warren
Coffee or tea - take your pick.  According to an article from the March 2012 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine, new research shows that both deliver unexpected health pulses.  A 2011 Harvard study, for example, found that female coffee drinkers who averaged four cups a day cut their risk of endometrial cancer 25% and, with more than three cups of caffeinated java, lowered their odds of basal-cell carcinoma 20%.  Tea, contains cancer-fighting antioxidants.  The beverages may also be mood boosters, with coffee linked to a decreased risk of depression and tea to less anxiety.  To get the most from your morning mug.

1.  Go for the High-Octane (I you can) -   The health bonuses haven't been found as consistently in decaf versions of coffee and tea.  But since regular coffee can pack as much as 200 mg of caffeine per eight-ounce cup (depending on the bean and the way it's brewed) and tea can go up to 60 mg per cup, stick with decaf if you have a GI issue like irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux, Ditto if you suffer from anxiety or sleep disturbances - or if you're simply sensitive to caffeine.  You'll still get some benefit from other compounds in your brew, such as the antioxidant chlorogenic acid in coffee.

2. Skip the Creamer - Adding non-dairy creamer and sugar to coffee interferes with the absorption of anti-oxidants, a Swiss study suggested.  Also, creamers are often made with partially hydrogenated oils, which contain heart-damaging trans fats.  To lighten your coffee, use cow's milk or soy or almond milk instead.

3. Take Your Tea Black - Adding milk may blunt its heart-health benefits, a German study found.  And speaking of black, green tea may be the health star, but all members of the Camellia sinensis family - black, white, and oolong tea, as well as green- have health benefits, including aiding in fighting infections and slowing cognitive decline.

4. Favor Filters - Coffee brewed without a paper filter - in French press or espresso pot, for example - retains an oily residue that contains cafestol, a substance that raises levels of heart-damaging LDL cholesterol. You could-if you're addicted to your French press - pour your coffee through a paper filter into a cup.  Or, just save special brews for an occasion - breakfast in bed, anyone?


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