June 27, 2006 -- When you reach for that mug in the morning, you may get more benefits than a jump-start to the day.
Daily cups of coffee have been linked to a reduced risk of Parkinson's disease, liver cancer, gallstones and type 2 diabetes. In addition, green tea and white tea have been touted for their health benefits.
"What's interesting really is for years we were beating up on coffee. … And now study after study is suggesting benefits," said "Good Morning America" medical contributor David Katz.
So given the choice between coffee and tea, what's the healthiest thing you can reach for in the morning?
You can find Katz's advice below. Full disclosure: He's a coffee drinker.
How Much to Have?
The maximum recommended amount of coffee is four 8-ounce cups a day, although it depends on the individual in terms of body size, among other factors. Because caffeine has been shown to raise blood pressure, you should limit your intake if you have any blood pressure abnormalities. More than four cups is never recommended.
There is the strong suggestion that the antioxidants in tea -- whether it's black, green or white -- have health benefits. Antioxidants can prevent inflammation of the blood vessels, and it has been linked to reduced risk for cancer. In terms of antioxidants, white tea has the most, followed by green tea, black tea and coffee. Green and white teas are made from different parts of the tea leaves, but both are minimally processed, unlike black tea, which is fermented. It appears the process of fermentation reduces the antioxidants in the final product.
Caffeine is associated with enhanced alertness, increased productivity and concentration when you're driving, and enhanced athletic performances. In terms of caffeine, coffee has the most followed by black tea, green tea and white tea.
Tea Vs. Tea Beverages
Because the health benefits of tea has become more recognized by the public, some manufacturers are putting a small amount of it in a product, then adding ingredients that are bad for you, such as sugar. For instance, a Snapple Green Tea has 46 grams of sugar in it -- the equivalent of about 11 sugar cubes. That's more than twice as much sugar as you get in a Hershey chocolate bar, which as 22 grams of sugar. Just because the label says white tea doesn't make it a healthy drink.
"Our green teas provide consumers with functional benefits … and great taste," Snapple said in a statement on its product. "We offer a lime green tea in both a diet and regular version, giving consumers different choice and calorie options."
Coffee or Tea?
If you have a choice between coffee or tea, Katz says tea is better. If coffee is part of your morning routine, you have nothing to worry about.