Food Fight!: Caffeinated Drinks

Related To:

Food Network Kitchen's Drinks

Photo by: Stephen Johnson ©2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Stephen Johnson, 2014, Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved

Looking for that morning or afternoon buzz? Caffeinated creations -- including coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks -- vary not only in their pick-me-up powers but also in their nutritional benefits. Find out which ones offer the most (and least) perks.

Coffee

Caffeine content: A typical cup of coffee (8 fluid ounces) contains 80 to 100 milligrams.

Perks and minuses: While black coffee contains an almost nonexistent amount of calories (about 5 per cup), too much cream and sugar will quickly change that. On the plus side, coffee is rich in flavonoids and other antioxidants that may benefit brain and heart health.

Tea

Caffeine content: Green, black, and white teas boast some caffeine, typically around 25 to 50 milligrams per cup.

Perks and minuses: Tea is also a potent source of antioxidants and has been associated in some studies with benefits such as heart health, cancer prevention and weight loss. Bottled teas are most often highly sweetened or dosed with artificial sweeteners, although popular brands such as  Sweet Leaf and Honest Tea now offer some refreshingly unsweetened varieties.

Soda

Caffeine content: Most caffeine-containing sodas contain a fairly modest 30 to 50 milligrams per 12-fluid-ounce can.

Perks and minuses: These drinks also tip the scales at more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving. No antioxidants to speak of here, just empty calories.

Energy Drinks

Caffeine content: Caffeine content is the real wild card for energy drinks. You may find anywhere from 100 to more than 800 milligrams of caffeine per serving (size varies).

Perks and minuses: These fizzy concoctions are probably the worst dietary offenders, with plenty of sugar and other additives that are cause for concern. Many also contain an herbal substance known as guarana that can further increase the effects of caffeine, plus a wide array of vitamin and herbal supplements that have potentially harmful consequences.

Winners: Unsweetened (or modestly sweetened) coffee and tea are the victors among this buzzy bunch. Simple is best.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Food Fight: Cappuccino vs. Latte!

Cappuccino and latte! Both have their merits. but which one is the healthier pick? There's only one way to find out: Get these beverages in the boxing ring!

A New Ingredient in Pumpkin Spice Lattes: Pumpkin

Starbucks has announced that its Pumpkin Spice Lattes will now actually contain pumpkin (and not caramel coloring).

Food Network Staffer Diary: I Broke Up with Coffee for 4 Days

The result? She became a zombie troll. Find out more here.

Reading List: Anti-Energy Drinks, Airport Food Safety & the Green Restaurant Trend

In this week’s nutrition news: Caffeine to be listed on food products, the popularity of green restaurants and a look at calories in today’s home cooked meals

Reading List: Caffeine Hurts Your Heart, A Look at Cheap Food & A Pro Footballer Goes Veg

A new (rather graphic) ad wants to keep you from pouring on the pounds, coffee and alcohol are linked to irregular heartbeats and there's a new "veggie-filled" Goldfish snack on the market.

Coffee: Good or Bad?

Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day. In Italy, people down 14 billion espressos every year. But the coffee-guzzling king is Finland, where residents drink more coffee than anywhere else in the world. Clearly, coffee is one of our favorite beverages, but is it good or bad?

Iced Coffee Hacks

Transform your favorite refreshing treat with these sweet hacks.

7 Tips for Making the Best Coffee Ever

Every coffee lover should consult these important rules (and handy tricks) before brewing another pot of java.

It Turns Out That Coffee Drinkers Get a Pre-Workout Caffeine Boost, Too

Consuming caffeine before you exercise can enhance your performance even if you are a big-time coffee guzzler.