The Fresh Beet | Credible Nutrition Information

Ask the RD: Should I avoid drinking tea and coffee with my meals?

By February 26, 2015 Nutrition Column

Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

I read somewhere that tannins in tea and coffee interfere with the body’s ability to absorb iron. If I have a cup of tea first thing in the morning, should I wait a certain amount of time before eating breakfast?

Great question!  You will want to wait 30 – 60 minutes before eating a meal after drinking tea. Liquids are eliminated from the body rather quickly, so once you’ve urinated after drinking your tea, you should be in the clear. After you’ve eaten a meal, however, you’ll want to wait up to 4 hours before drinking tea since solid food takes a bit while longer to move through the digestive system.

For additional caution, you could consume a food with vitamin C at your meal as this will overcome the inhibitory effects of iron from tannins. Black tea has the highest amount of tannins, herbal teas the lowest, and green teas are in the middle. Coffee and wine also contain tannins. It takes 50mg of Vitamin C to overcome 100mg of tannins. Here are a list of foods that contain 50mg of vitamins C:

  • 1/2 cup orange or lemon juice

  • 1 small orange, 1 kiwi, a few strawberries

  • ~5 strips of bell pepper (any color), 2 small raw banana peppers

  • 1/2 cup raw kale

  • 3/4 cup raw broccoli

  • 1 cup raw red cabbage

Vitamin C is destroyed during cooking so if you’re trying to reap the most benefits, eat vitamin C-rich foods in their raw form.


Do you have a nutrition question that you would like to see posted? Click here to ask a question and I’ll post the answer shortly. 

Cheers!

~Ashley

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