Regardless of whether you are a morning person, you probably have a morning beverage habit. Coffee fans cannot face the day without a cup of joe, while tea drinkers are out of kilter if they don't awaken with a cup of herb, black or green tea. A glass of water might well help you more in the morning than either of these more popular morning beverages.
Most morning coffee drinkers would not trade their first cup of coffee for any other beverage, which is not surprising given that the caffeine in coffee is a mildly addictive stimulant. Moderate coffee consumption might have more benefits, including lowering risk of Type 2 diabetes, reducing risk of gallstones and colon cancer, and -- the key effect for morning coffee drinkers -- improving cognitive function, Harvard Medical School reports. Coffee will keep you more alert, however, if you spread your consumption through the day rather than imbibing a few big cups first thing in the morning. People with heart concerns should discuss caffeine's potential effects on blood pressure, heart rate and heart rhythm with their doctors before consuming large amounts of coffee or any other caffeinated beverages.
Black, green, white and oolong teas all come from the same plant and all contain caffeine, according to a Northwestern University's Medill Reports interview with Dr. Stanley Segall, professor emeritus of nutrition and food science at Drexel University. Tea contains antioxidants that help protect the body from the negative health effects of damaging free radicals, elements that roam the bloodstream causing cellular damage. The less-processed white and green teas have higher antioxidant levels than black and oolong teas. The caffeine in tea, as in coffee, may interfere with certain medicines, so check with your doctor about whether tea or coffee is appropriate to consume on an empty stomach in the morning. Also beware of commercial cold beverages that are usurping the benefits of tea. Many of these contain a small amount of tea and a massive amount of sugar or other harmful ingredients that negate the health benefits, according to a report on ABC News' "Good Morning America."
Herbals teas, or tisanes, have the same warm-beverage comforting factor as that morning cup of coffee or caffeinated tea, but without the acidity or caffeine. A variety of herbal teas are available in loose leaf and bag form, allowing you to keep an assortment on hand to match your morning mood. Different herbal teas may also help address the symptoms of a cold, upset digestion or other ailments, notes David Perry at the University of New Hampshire. Ginger tea and peppermint tea help fight motion sickness and the morning sickness associated with pregnancy, so if you face a nauseating morning commute or are bearing a child, herbal teas might be the best morning choice for you. Always consult your doctor, however, before treating any medical condition with herbal alternatives, especially if you are pregnant.
Water is the most popular beverage in the world, and for good reason. Water helps all your bodily functions work more efficiently, from thinking to fighting disease to maintaining a healthful weight, according to a web page on the Lake Forest College site, and should be consumed before you drink anything else. Drink water all day, starting in the morning, advises the Iowa State University Nutrition Clinic. Improve the health benefits of that morning cup of water with a chunk of lemon. Its flavor will help wake you up, and it will add antioxidants to water's list of beneficial factors, according to a study published in the "Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture" in January 2011.
- Lake Forest College: Student Life -- Nutrition
- Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture: Juice Components and Antioxidant Capacity of Four Tunisian Citrus Varieties
- ABC News Good Morning America; What's Better for You: Coffee or Tea?; June 27, 2006
- Northwestern University Medill Reports; Reading Between the Leaves: Tea's Benefits Balanced by Potential Medical Interactions; Dani Friedland, et al.; March 10, 2009
- Harvard Medical School Health Publications; Coffee Health Risks: For the Moderate Drinker, Coffee is Safe Says Harvard Women's Health Watch; August 2004
- Iowa State University Nutrition Clinic; Wellness at Work; Sally Barclay