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Coffee, Tea and Chocolate...Oh My!


Coffee

The first thing many of us think about the minute we get up in the morning is a nice big cup of coffee to get that caffeine kick started. But did you know that coffee does a lot more than provide you with the much needed energy booster? Coffee increases what scientists call “plasma antioxidant capacity” or antioxidants in the blood.

Chronic coffee consumption may also increase blood sugar levels slightly. This slight increase in blood sugar from caffeinated coffee is an added benefit for athletes who need that blood sugar to fuel their muscles. That’s one reason why a small amount of coffee before an event is considered a performance enhancer.

Tea

Tea is the world’s second most popular beverage, after water. [1] This super brew contains no sodium, fat, carbonation, or sugar, and is calorie-free. For a cost-efficient and common every day beverage, it packs quite a powerful protective punch! Teas reduce blood sugar levels, are anti-inflammatory, lower cholesterol, protect against heart disease and cancer, provide antioxidant protection, and have the ability to stimulate the metabolism.

There are several tea types, each with different levels of caffeine per 8 ounce cup [2]:

Coffee: 95 – 200 milligrams Black Tea: 40 – 70 milligrams Oolong Tea: 37 – 55 milligrams Green Tea: 35 – 45 milligrams White Tea: 15 – 30 milligrams Herbal Tea: Caffeine Free

Chocolate

Did you know that if eaten daily, 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of chocolate would not just reduce cardiovascular risk, but reduce it by 21%? Before you get too excited, no, we are not referring to the commercial chocolate bars such as white chocolate or milk chocolate. These have virtually no health benefits. Nor are we referring to the caramel stuffed, nut covered, candy bars at your local grocery or 24-hour convenience store. We are talking about high-cocoa-content dark chocolate. Cocoa also contains magnesium, which is one of the most important minerals for heart health. But as with everything, moderation is key! Aim for chocolate that is 60% cocoa (70% or higher is better, but much harder to find). Also, keep in mind, 1 ounce of dark chocolate with 70% cocoa provides about 25 milligrams of caffeine, so if you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to lower the intake of this tasty treat! [3]

[1] Martin, Laura C. (2007). Tea: The Drink that Changed the World. Tuttle Publishing. pp. 7-8.

[2] https://www.garfieldmedicalcentre.com/GMC-Blog/2016/October/Different-Types-of-Tea-and -Caffeine-Content.aspx

[3] Bowden, Jonny. (2007). The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth about What You Should Eat and Why. Quayside Publishing Group. pp. 224-226, 250-252, 264-268.