Low Fat Confusion, Caffeine in Tea

Low Fat Confusion, Caffeine in Tea

Q: I’m confused by the changing headlines about low-fat diets for weight control. What’s the best advice?
Q: Is it true that tea is actually higher in caffeine than coffee?

AICR HealthTalk
Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research

Q: I’m confused by the changing headlines about low-fat diets for weight control. What’s the best advice?

A: The bottom line is that reducing dietary fat is a successful strategy for weight control only to the extent that it helps achieve the crucial goal of controlling calorie consumption. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine testing effectiveness of equally reduced calorie diets – whether low or high in fat, low or high in carbohydrate, and average or high in protein—showed no difference in weight loss. Two large studies looked at whether the proportion of calories coming from fat and the type of fat made any significant difference in weight gain. One study showed no difference, while the other suggested that greater consumption of animal fat or saturated fat might increase weight gain. Even though evidence is not conclusive, we do know that fat is our most concentrated source of calories, so reducing consumption of high-fat foods and added fat is still a valuable tool for cutting calories, as long as the calories from high-fat choices are not replaced by other foods.

Q: Is it true that tea is actually higher in caffeine than coffee?

A: No. On average, caffeine content of brewed black or green tea is about half that of brewed coffee although levels of caffeine in both coffee and tea vary somewhat depending on how they are brewed. Tea brewed extremely strong may contain caffeine amounts approaching that of coffee, but is unlikely to exceed it. Brewing time seems to overcome any differences in caffeine content between varieties of tea. Decaffeinated coffee and tea contain very small amounts of caffeine, usually 2 to 10 milligrams in a six-ounce cup. Herbal teas generally contain no detectable caffeine. Moderate caffeine consumption is generally defined as no more than 300 milligrams (mg) per day. This allows up to 3 eight-ounce cups of regular coffee or 6 eight-ounce cups of regular tea (perhaps 7 cups of green tea), unless you are getting additional caffeine from soft drinks, dark chocolate or over-the-counter medications.