The “Need to Know” about Coffee and Tea
By Nancy Mehlert, MS
Edited by Mila McManus MD
Over the last decade, there have been many meta-analyses and other studies supporting the benefits of, and possible links between, coffee and tea reducing risk for chronic diseases. As recent as 2015, even the Dietary Guidelines for Americans added coffee and tea as a recommended beverage that could be safely consumed daily without detrimental effects. That came from research pointing to both coffee and tea as demonstrating anti-cancer effects, as well as protective qualities for the heart, brain, and liver. Research also has shown an association with lower risk for many other diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and overall mortality.
At the 230th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers stated findings that suggest Americans get more antioxidants from drinking coffee than from any other dietary source and emphasized that “nothing else even comes close”. ¹ Well I guess that just proves two things – lots of us enjoy our coffee and tea, and perhaps many of us are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. That said, if you truly want the health benefits associated with drinking coffee and tea, and it is a daily practice for you, then here are some things you need to know to reap the benefits:
- Quality is essential! Both should be organic. Coffee is one of the most heavily pesticided crops in the world. It would also help if you seek sustainably shade-grown coffee to protect tropical rain forests and bird habitats. The green tea plant roots are especially receptive to absorbing lead, fluoride, and other toxins in the soil, so it’s important that tea be grown away from excessive industrial pollution (like China where 90% of the world’s green tea is produced!). Instead, it should be grown in a pristine environment, preferably using an organic, sustainable method. Whole leaf Matcha green tea is recommended to be obtained from Japan rather than China.
- Buy whole bean coffee. Coffee, once ground, becomes rancid very, very rapidly. Thus, the vast majority of the coffee for sale in the marketplace that is already ground is rancid. You will get the caffeine, but none of the other health benefits of the coffee. Coffee should have a pleasant aroma. If not, it is likely rancid. Buy whole bean and grind it as you use it.
- Look for dark roast to get the health benefits. The darker the pigment the greater the health benefits. Look for French Roast, espresso or Turkish coffee for maximum benefit.
- Check out your filters. If you use paper filters, be sure they are non-bleached papers. Pure white filters have been chlorine bleached and usually also contain disinfection by-products such as dioxin. This makes your daily cup of joe a very counterproductive toxic drink!
- Skip the milk and sugar! One of the benefits of coffee and tea come from a group of compounds called There is good evidence that dairy creamers interfere with the absorption of these compounds in the body. Also, sugar will contribute to insulin resistance which is at the heart of most chronic disease. Check out www.coconutoilcreations.com . Our office tried the Mocha and the Pumpkin Spice and all agreed it was latte style as good as your favorite coffee shop. If a sweetener is needed then stick with a natural option such as stevia, erythritol, xylitol or lo han/monkfruit.
- One caution: While it does appear that coffee and tea in moderation can be beneficial, there can be adverse effects, especially if you are consuming excessive quantities. If you are already generally healthy, consuming moderate amounts are fine and even good for your health. If you are chronically fatigued, have anxiety or high blood pressure, caffeine can negatively impact hormone balance, neurotransmitter function and nerve signaling, and, therefore, it would be best to limit or avoid the caffeine associated with coffee and tea.
¹Eurek Alert August 28, 2014