Saturday, June 19, 2010

to tea or not to tea: is it even a question? PART II

My last post focused on the many benefits of drinking tea (primarily green tea). Interesting information, but probably not too surprising. Today I'm going to talk about a more controversial beverage: coffee. Coffee drinking has long been condemned as a bad habit, or vice, as if it is something to feel guilty about. No longer. Coffee drinking has now been linked with a lower risk of diabetes, liver and skin cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. According to WebMD, over 19,000 research studies aimed at investigating the health effects of coffee have been conducted in recent years. And the majority of studies' findings have given coffee lovers reason to brew-on, guilt-free. So what makes coffee so great? After all, it doesn't have any "essential" nutrients like proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, or minerals. But it does have antioxidants, nature's cancer-fighting chemicals. Check the last post for more detailed info about antioxidants. More surprisingly, coffee also contains between 1 and 2 grams of fiber per cup.

Many of the benefits of coffee are similar to those of tea, so I won't repeat what I wrote about in the last post. If you want to know more specifics, check out these links:
Coffee and Type 2 Diabetes
Coffee and Liver Cancer
Coffee and Skin Cancer
Coffee and Parkinson's Disease
Coffee and Alzheimer's Disease

Okay, so now you're (hopefully) convinced that there are plenty of great reasons to include tea and coffee in your daily diet. But, just as important, do you even want to? Because, sure, a Grande Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha may taste heavenly, but its 470 calories and 59 grams of sugar most likely completely negate the benefits from the coffee. Now there's no question that the healthiest way to drink tea and coffee is plain. No added sugar, creamer, etc. But while there is certainly a portion of the population that will happily drink tea plain and coffee black, most of us can't hope to do this without puckering our lips from the bitterness and rushing for some other food or drink to cancel out the taste. So what to do? As an enthusiastic coffee drinker myself, I've spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out how to adulterate my coffee as little as possible and still enjoy my daily cup (or daily 3 cups). My favorite "recipe" so far is to mix about 4 parts coffee to 1 part organic vanilla soymilk, then stir in a few teaspoons of honey or homemade hot cocoa mix (which is just cocoa and powdered sugar). The soymilk acts as a sweetener and creamer with a bonus of protein and nutrients like calcium and Vitamin D. The honey or cocoa add some more flavor and sweetness without the high fructose corn syrup, partially-hydrogenated oils, and artificial colors and flavors of sweeteners and creamers like Coffee Mate. I do something a little different with my tea. Because I can't stomach the bitterness of straight green tea, I've started making by tea using two tea bags: one green tea bag and one naturally-sweet tea like Chai, Rooibos, or fruity herbal tea. I sometimes add a little vanilla soymilk as well. Here's a list of ways to keep your coffee and tea healthy while still being able to enjoy it:

For Tea
1. Lemon Juice or other Fruit Juice
2. Jam

For Coffee
1. Molasses
2. Cocoa
For Both Tea and Coffee
1. Honey
2. Milk
3. Vanilla Soymilk, Almond Milk, or Rice Milk
4. Agave Nectar
5. Cinnamon
6. Maple Syrup

(Idea Sources: About.com, World Tea News)

Photo Credits: Selma90, rore, alsjhc

4 comments:

  1. Stop corrupting the youth!!!

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  2. Haha you'd rather have the youth eating only pizza and living nocturnally? ;)

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  3. jam in tea?!?! why didn't i think of that? thanks for the hot tip!

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  4. I know I never would have thought of that either! I came upon the idea for the first time while writing this post. :)

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