Caffeine is a naturally derived from plants such as coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa beans. It can also be found commercially in beverages, cocoa products, and some medications. Common beverages with caffeine include coffee, tea, soft drinks, and energy drinks.
Research shows that a daily serving of 400 mg of caffeine daily causes little to no side effects in most healthy adults. 1 However, higher servings can cause toxicity and, in some cases, death. The signs of caffeine toxicity include nervousness, irritability, sleep disturbances, irregular heartbeat, frequent urination, elevated respiration, and gastrointestinal issues.1 Conversely, regular supplementation with low servings of caffeine heighten physical performance, enhance alertness, and target fatigue. 2
Green tea is made from the Camellia plant. The leaves, buds, or stems can all be utilized in tea production. Tea is one of the world’s most widely consumed beverages and the consumption of green tea dates back to ancient Asia. Green tea consists of caffeine, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, carbohydrates, and antioxidant polyphenols called catechin and flavanol. It is often described as the greatest dietary source of catechins. Additionally, key minerals found in this tea include fluoride, manganese, chromium, selenium, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.3
Furthermore, green tea is also considered a functional food with a multitude of health benefits. More specifically, studies show that incorporating antioxidant-rich foods, including green tea, into a person’s diet can promote enhanced heart health.3,4 Another active component in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which boosts metabolism and supports natural energy production.5 There is also about 120 mg of caffeine in one cup of green tea.6 Accordingly, when green tea is consumed in moderation, it can have a positive influence on attention and energy levels.1,6
Energy drinks are also frequently consumed for their caffeine content. Most energy drinks are marketed to consumers who want to experience an energy boost or enhanced performance capabilities.7,8 Unlike green tea, energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine as one cup may have more than 150 mg.7,8 In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks contain large amounts of sugar and other artificial ingredients that may overstimulate the body.
Though energy drinks generally produce bursts of energy, the experience is usually temporary and consistent consumption is often linked to side effects. The blend of stimulating ingredients in energy drinks has caused some individuals to suffer from headaches, stomach aches, hyperactivity, and sleep problems. Furthermore, some studies have demonstrated a link between the consumption of energy drinks and engaging in unsafe behavior.7 Research also indicates that there is an association between energy drink consumption and an increased risk in mental health problems including stress, worry, and feelings of hopelessness.7,8
The Healthy Choice
Although energy drinks have more caffeine and may give you a bigger boost of energy than green tea, higher amounts of caffeine isn’t always better. Therefore, the next time you are feeling sluggish or unfocused, reach for a cup of green tea. In addition to being a healthy source of caffeine, green tea provides an ample supply of antioxidants that promote overall wellness. This means that green tea is the healthier choice.
- Nawrot, P., Jordan, S., Eastwood, J., Rotstein, J., Hugenholtz, A., & Feeley, M. (2003). Effects of caffeine on human health. Food Additives & Contaminants, 20(1), 1-30.
- Smith, A. (2002). Effects of caffeine on human behavior. Food and chemical toxicology, 40(9), 1243-1255.
- Prasanth, M. I., Sivamaruthi, B. S., Chaiyasut, C., & Tencomnao, T. (2019). A review of the role of green tea (Camellia sinensis) in antiphotoaging, stress resistance, neuroprotection, and autophagy. Nutrients, 11(2), 474.
- Musial, C., Kuban-Jankowska, A., & Gorska-Ponikowska, M. (2020). Beneficial properties of green tea catechins. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(5), 1744.
- Unno, K., & Nakamura, Y. (2021). Green Tea Suppresses Brain Aging. Molecules, 26(16), 4897.
- Hodgson AB, Randell RK, Jeukendrup AE. The effect of green tea extract on fat oxidation at rest and during exercise: evidence of efficacy and proposed mechanisms. Adv Nutr. 2013;4(2):129-140.
- Visram, S., Cheetham, M., Riby, D. M., Crossley, S. J., & Lake, A. A. (2016). Consumption of energy drinks by children and young people: a rapid review examining evidence of physical effects and consumer attitudes. BMJ open, 6(10), e010380.
- Richards, G., & Smith, A. P. (2016). A review of energy drinks and mental health, with a focus on stress, anxiety, and depression. Journal of caffeine research, 6(2), 49-63.