The “black and green” path to a longer life

Yesterday I talked about how nutrition isn’t always as black and white as most people would like. Well, one new study suggests that it could be black and green. Let me explain…

Coffee and tea cut death risk in half

Researchers tracked the health of nearly 5,000 older Japanese diabetics for just over five years, on average. (Data came from the Fukuoka Diabetes Registry, which is a study focused on the impact of medication and lifestyle on the lifespan of patients with type 2 diabetes.)

This data included information on daily food and drink consumption—as well as info on lifestyle factors like exercise routines, alcohol consumption, and sleep habits. Researchers also collected weight, height, and blood pressure measurements, along with blood work and urine samples.

Over the course of the study period, just over 300 subjects died—mostly from cancer or heart disease. But researchers noted one major source of protection: Patients who drank black coffee and/or green tea had lower odds of dying from any causes… especially if they drank a lot of it.

In fact, patients who drank one cup of green tea daily enjoyed a 15 percent lower risk of death. Odds dropped by 27 percent with two to three cups per day—and by a whopping 40 percent with four or more daily cups.

A daily cup of coffee, meanwhile, was linked with a 19 percent lower risk of death. And risk dropped by 41 percent with two or more cups per day.

But people who drank both beverages appeared to benefit from the most protection. Get this: Among patients who drank up to three cups of green tea and two or more cups of coffee, death risk dropped by 51 percent. It fell by 58 percent among those who drank four or more cups of green tea and one cup of coffee daily.

And people who drank four or more cups of green tea and two or more cups of coffee every day? Well, they benefited from a 63 percent lower risk of death by any cause.

A few important caveats

I should note that this is an observational study, so it can’t point out cause and effect. But this is not the first time either beverage has emerged as a potential lifesaver.

Green tea—packed with inflammation-fighting antioxidants and phenols—has always been a personal favorite of mine. But I’ve also shared plenty of research on coffee’s benefits against cancer, heart disease, and more. So while I don’t personally drink it on a daily basis, I make sure my patients and readers know that they don’t need to shy away from this particular “vice.”

As long as you steer clear of the milk and sugar, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a hot cup of joe or a steaming pot of tea every day—and as the temperatures drop, I can hardly think of a healthier way to warm up.

That said, if you’ve ever eaten anything too hot—like a spoonful of steaming soup, or a slice of pizza—then you know what it does to the roof of your mouth. It burns. And burns are injuries…

In fact, the International Agency for Research on Cancer recently classified any beverage hotter than 65° C (149° F) as a probable carcinogen. To put this into perspective, most Americans drink their coffee at around 60° C, or 140° F—and that’s cutting it pretty close, if you ask me.

Now, as you may recall, there are documented benefits to drinking your tea or coffee hot rather than cold—so I’m not saying you need to put it on ice. But if whatever’s in your mug is hot enough to take your skin off, it’s best to let it cool down a bit before you start sipping.

P.S. There’s no doubt that green tea has made the “Big Time.” You can find it in gas stations, supermarkets, health food stores, and even corner coffee shops. So how can you make sure you aren’t just throwing your money away on overpriced flavored water? Well, I outline exactly what you can look for when purchasing green tea in the April 2012 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“How to ensure you’re getting the best green tea has to offer”). Not yet a subscriber? Become one today!


“Drinking green tea and coffee daily linked to lower death risk in people with diabetes: 4 or more cups of green tea and 2 or more of coffee linked to 63% lower all cause mortality.” Science Daily, 10/20/2020. (