There is an ongoing debate about which is better for you, black or green tea. Both have health benefits and contain health-boosting compounds like antioxidants. However, are there differences between black and green tea that should make you reach for one over the other?
Black Versus Green Tea
Black and green tea come from the Camellia sinensis plant and contain antioxidants and nutrients. According to Dr. Andrew Weil's website, green tea is made from steamed, rolled, and dried leaves. Black tea is oxidized. No matter which type of tea you prefer, you are doing your health a favor each time you drink it.
|Antioxidant Content||Caffeine Content||Promotes Weight Loss?||Improves Heart Health?||Helps Prevent Cancer?||Improves Bone Health?|| |
Helps Prevent Cavities?
In the antioxidant arena, green tea wins over black tea hands down. A study published in The Journal of Nutrition concluded the antioxidant capacity per serving of green tea (436 mg vitamin C equivalents) was much higher than black tea (239 mg).
Green tea also has more vitamin C than black tea, although not as much as some citrus fruits.
Black tea is generally higher in caffeine than green tea. According to the Mayo Clinic, black tea contains 14 to 70 mg per eight ounce cup; green tea contains 24 to 45 mg. The Mayo Clinic cautions caffeine content varies day to day or even cup to cup due to brewing and steeping methods, tea brand, and preparation. However, the amount of caffeine in black or green tea comes in lower than coffee (95-200 mg per eight ounce cup).
Green tea is all over the airwaves for weight loss. In a study published in Obesity, participants given green tea extract high in catechins showed reduced body fat, lower systolic blood pressure, and lower LDL cholesterol. However, a research review published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews determined the green tea/weight loss link to be insignificant. They found green tea preparations appear to cause a small weight loss in obese adults; however, the weight loss was too small to be clinically important.
A study was done on the effects of Chinese tea extract containing high gallic acid (an antioxidant with antiobesity properties) on 36 pre-obese Japanese adults. The study determined black tea extract reduced waist circumference, body mass index, and visceral fat.
Weight loss related to green or black tea may get a boost from caffeine. According to research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who maintained weight loss "consumed significantly more cups of coffee daily than those in the general population sample."
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, the antioxidants in green tea may prevent coronary artery disease. Both black and green tea may reduce cholesterol and triglycerides.
A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed green tea reduced total and LDL cholesterol, although it did not have a significant impact on HDL cholesterol. An animal study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed both green and black teas equally effective in preventing atherosclerosis. Harvard Health Publications suggests flavonoids in tea, which help reduce inflammation and prevent plaque build-up in arteries, are largely responsible for tea's heart health benefits.
According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidant polyphenols in green and black tea may play a role in cancer prevention. The chemicals may:
- Scavenge for free radicals in the body
- Protect cells from DNA damage
- Prevent tumor cells from multiplying
- Cause tumor cell death
- Protect against UVB radiation
Green tea may also activate specific enzymes to prevent tumor development.
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, green tea may support good dental health. A study observed the effects of green tea on periodontal disease markers including bleeding gums, loss of gum tissue, and periodontal pocket depth. Results showed a decrease in all three for every cup of green tea consumed. A separate study found green tea may decrease the risk of tooth loss.
Researchers from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry believe drinking black tea helps prevent cavities. They found black tea reduces the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in plaque. When participants "rinsed with black tea for 30 seconds, five times at three-minute intervals, bacteria stopped growing and producing acid." Adding sugar or sweetener to tea may counteract the benefit.
Drink More Tea
The evidence is clear. Both black and green teas are good for you. Studies show green tea may have an edge, but black tea still has impressive health benefits and is gaining ground. If caffeine is an issue, green tea may be a better choice.
Overall, research to date shows the health benefits of green and black tea are comparable. Both show potential benefits in heart health, cancer prevention, weight loss, dental health, and antioxidant abilities. Drinking either type is a healthy choice. For best results, drink your "cuppa" hot, brewed from loose tea leaves and add no or minimal sweetener and milk or cream.