Coffee and tea are both very low in calories. Although they both contain caffeine, both also offer health benefits when consumed in moderation. When consumed in moderation, coffee does not generally have adverse health effects, and might actually promote cardiovascular heath, notes the Harvard School of Public Health. Tea, especially green tea, boasts powerful antioxidants that help fight against disease and illness.
Calories in Coffee
Coffee is extremely low in calories. A 6-ounce serving of coffee, brewed from grounds and prepared with tap water, contains only 2 calories, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. A 2-ounce serving of brewed espresso, as prepared in a restaurant, has just 1 calorie. Instant coffee has a slightly higher calorie count, but it's still very low. A 6-ounce serving of regular instant coffee, prepared with water, contains 4 calories.
Calories in Tea
Most varieties of tea listed in the USDA National Nutrient Database contain 2 calories per 6-ounce serving. Those include tea brewed with tap water, chamomile and other herb teas, brewed and instant tea prepared from unsweetened powder. An 8-ounce serving of prepared instant tea, lemon-flavored and sweetened with sodium saccharin, contains 5 calories, and an 8-ounce serving of prepared instant tea from powder, flavored with lemon and sweetened with sugar, contains 88 calories.
Benefits of Coffee
The health benefits of coffee range from helping protect against Parkinson's disease to decreasing the risk of suicide. Other indicated benefits, when consumed in moderation, include reduced asthma symptoms, a decreased risk of Alzheimer's disease, reduction of gallstone symptoms and protection against liver cancer.
Benefits of Tea
Green tea has more health benefits than black tea, and oolong tea falls somewhere in between the two. Green tea helps protect against various forms of cancer and contributes to a lower risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis and bacterial and viral infections. Green tea also serves as a blood-thinner and helps prevent blood clots, lowers your risk of gallstones and may help prevent Type 2 diabetes.
Even though coffee and tea are very low in calories, adding your favorite flavorings and sweeteners to them can make extra calories add up quickly. The caffeine in coffee and tea, especially black tea, might also cause health issues in some people. Caffeine before bedtime, for example, can disrupt your sleep cycle, and large amounts of caffeine can temporarily increase your blood pressure and heart rate. If you're sensitive to caffeine, switch to decaf coffee and black tea, or opt for caffeine-free herbal teas.