The News About Morning Brews

I’ve got good news for you. If you can’t face the idea of giving up your morning cup of coffee—you don’t have to. Plenty of research shows that in moderate doses (say, a cup or two), of coffee increases mental alertness and improves mood—and coffee in the morning isn’t likely to affect your sleep pattern at night.

But there’s something even better than coffee when it comes to health—tea, the most popular beverage in the world. Hundreds of research studies show tea’s health benefits. Tea is linked with everything from better heart health to improved immune function to increasing your metabolism. Tea contains antioxidants called flavanoids, that help protect your body against free radicals. (Free radicals cause cellular damage and appear to up your risk of developing conditions like heart disease and cancer.)

In addition to caffeine, tea also contains an amino acid called l-theanine that creates a feeling of calm alertness—which is just what you need when you’re stressed and on the go. In fact, I’d say given the choice between tea and water, tea is an even better choice because of its antioxidant boost.

If you drink your coffee or tea “straight up,” (i.e., no added cream, sugar, or other ingredients), it’s also calorie-free. But if you prefer lattes, mochas, or frappuccinos, you may be in trouble calorie-wise. A “grande” (small) mocha frappuccino blended coffee at Starbucks contains 260 calories while a small latte contains 190 calories. Larger drinks and higher-sugar versions can contain twice that.

While a little bit of caffeine can help improve mental alertness and mood, you can have too much of a good thing. A typical cup of brewed coffee has about 133 grams of caffeine, while a grande brewed coffee at Starbucks has 320 grams. The same size at Dunkin’ Donuts has 206 grams of caffeine. Tea contains less caffeine—a cup of brewed tea has about 53 grams of caffeine while a Snapple Lemon tea has about 100 grams. Most sodas have about 50 grams of caffeine per 12-ounce can while one 8-ounce can of Red Bull has about 80 grams.

People develop tolerance to caffeine over time. In other words, the more caffeine you consume regularly, the less impact it may have. Everyday caffeine consumption of 300 mg or more can dehydrate you, cause stomach problems, or cause headaches from withdrawal when you don’t consume your usual amount. If you notice these kinds of symptoms, gradually reduce your intake to reduce your reliance on it to get through the day.