To drink or not to drink, this is the question. Over the years tea and coffee have been associated with a lot of heath issues, both positively and negatively. In a review article published in Food and Function a team of scientist from the School of Medicine and Pharmacology at The University of Western Australia discuss the effects of tea and coffee on cardiovascular disease risk (CVD).
They point out that, while we are just at the beginning of mapping the metabolic pathways for compounds (and in identifying them in the first place), some epidemiological data suggest that black and green tea may reduce the risk of both coronary heart disease and stroke, and, at the same time, some experimental and clinical trial data indicate either neutral or beneficial effects on risk factors and pathways linked to the development of CVD. The review analyses the potential mechanisms by which tea and coffee phytochemicals can exert effects for CVD protection but controversy still exists, for example, regarding the effects of coffee.
So even if tea and coffee are far the most popular (non alcoholic) drinks (after water of course) we still need to learn a lot about the effect they have on our body. The RSC is also publishing a new book on this theme: “Caffeine. Chemistry, Analysis, Function and Effects” edited by Victor Preedy, Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry and Director of Genomics Centre, King's College London and Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at King's College Hospital London. The book is specifically designed to link chemistry with health and nutrition, and is designed for researchers interested in the topic. To tackle the “mystery” of coffee we need scientist to work on interdisciplinary projects and this book could be of interest for different professionals like chemists, analytical scientists, forensic scientists, food scientists, dieticians and health care workers, nutritionists, toxicologists and research academic, but it could also be suitable for lecturers and teachers in food and nutritional sciences and as a college or university library reference guide.
The book will be an important resource for researchers as they try to understand the molecular mechanisms behind the biological effects of tea and coffee. To do this they will need to identify the active compounds in beverages. And that is going to be quite a challenge as biological effects of both drinks are dependent on plant variety, growth conditions, processing method, blend and brewing process, these can all vary the phytochemical composition of the final products. Moreover, genetic variation in enzymes involved in uptake, metabolism and excretion of tea and coffee compounds are also associated with differential biological effects. Future studies will probably include the so called Nutrigenomics, the study of the functional interaction of food and its components with the genome at a molecular, cellular and systemic level.
And while “to drink or not to drink” is still the question, we may as well keep drinking tea and coffee.