TEA AND COFFEE: SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

TEA AND COFFEE: SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW

Tea and coffee are popular beverages. They are known to relieve mental and muscular fatigue. This characteristic stimulating effect is due to their caffeine content.

A cup (150 ml) of brewed coffee contains 80-120 mg of caffeine and instant coffee 50-65 mg, while tea contains 30- 65 mg of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and induces physiological dependence. Generally, low doses (20-200 mg) of caffeine produce mild positive effects like a feeling of well-being, alertness and being energetic. Higher doses (>200 mg) can produce negative effects like nervousness and anxiety, especially in people who do not usually consume caffeine-containing beverages. Therefore, moderation in tea and coffee consumption is advised so that caffeine intake does not exceed the tolerable limits. Tannin is also present in tea and coffee and is known to interfere with iron absorption. Hence, tea and coffee should be avoided at least for one hour before and after meals.

Excess consumption of coffee is known to increase blood pressure and cause abnormalities in heart beat. In addition, an association between coffee consumption and elevated levels of total and LDL cholesterol ('bad' cholesterol), triglycerides and heart disease has been demonstrated. Therefore, individuals with heart disease need to restrict coffee consumption.

Besides caffeine, tea contains theobromine and theophylline. These are known to relax coronary arteries and thereby promote circulation. Tea also contains flavonoids and other antioxidant polyphenols, which are known to reduce the risk for coronary heart disease and stomach cancer. However, as a result of its caffeine content, excess tea consumption is deleterious to health. Decaffeinated coffee and tea are being marketed to obviate the adverse effects of caffeine.