It's no secret that drinking tea is good for you. Tea has been an integral part of traditional medicine and is revered as a cure-all in many Asian countries. The Chinese and Japanese have consumed this tea to improve health for centuries. It's even promoted in Western medicine as a way to treat symptoms of the cold and flu.
The benefits of drinking tea go far beyond simply feeling better when you're sick. Drinking tea can help protect brain health, improve heart health, and may even prevent certain types of cancer. Here, we'll show you all the healthy benefits of drinking tea so you can settle in with your favorite mug and sip to your health.
Tea is one of the most frequently consumed beverages in the world. There are two main categories of tea: true teas and herbal teas. In addition, there are flavored teas that combine a true tea base with herbal infusions.
True teas are made using the leaves of the tea plant known as Camellia sinensis. These teas include green tea, white tea, oolong tea, pu-erh tea, and black tea. While these teas are made using the same leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the difference in color and taste arises from the production process.
Green tea and white tea are the true teas, which undergo the least processing. These teas are not oxidized. The leaves are harvested and dried to prevent the chemical reaction that turns the leaves a dark brown or black color. As a result, these teas retain their natural green color and are considered among the healthiest teas.
Black tea is fully oxidized while oolong tea is only partially oxidized. Pu-erh tea is aged and considered a post-oxidized tea. These true teas offer a range of health benefits, but are considered slightly inferior to green tea. The caffeine content of true teas varies between the different types and on how the tea was produced.
Herbal teas are made by infusing fruits, roots, herbs, leaves, and stems of a variety of plants. Herbal teas are also commonly called herbal tisanes. These teas boas health benefits that differ from true teas since they contain various compounds. Some of the most popular herbal teas include ginger tea, peppermint tea, and chamomile tea. Herbal teas do not contain any caffeine.
Recent research including animal studies shows that tea drinking may significantly lower the risk for serious heart disease including heart attack and blood clots. Tea contains anti-inflammatory properties that help to soothe tissue in arteries. This helps to minimize the risk of inflammation that can restrict blood circulation and cause clotting (1).
Tea consumption may also help decrease high blood pressure and lower cholesterol. One study found that people who drank four cups or more of green tea each day had a 32 percent decreased risk of heart attack and significantly lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
Green tea contains a small amount of caffeine that can help increase energy. The low caffeine amounts make green tea a good choice for people who are looking to cut back on their caffeine intake.
Green tea's energy-boosting properties are further driven by an amino acid known as L-theanine. This amino acid slows the absorption of caffeine. As a result, the energy boost from green tea is longer-lasting and more steady than that from a cup of coffee. You'll get the increased focus and energy without the jittery side effects or the crash when the caffeine wears off. L-theanine also increase alpha waves in the brain, helping to increase focus while at the same time offering calming and relaxing effects.
Green tea may help accelerate weight loss thanks to its chemical composition. Green tea contains amino acids that signal the body to burn stored fat. The caffeine in green tea also helps boost energy so you can power through your workouts more efficiently (2).
Studies have shown that these benefits are more pronounced in individuals of Asian decent. People of other ethnicities may also see improved weight loss numbers, but to a lower extent than others.
Green tea extract is a popular weight loss supplement that is promoted to accelerate weight loss. Green tea extract is simply a concentrated form of green tea leaves. By drinking green tea, you can get the same weight loss benefits as taking a supplement.
Green tea also helps to keep you hydrated and may satisfy a sweet tooth. Green tea is a calorie-free drink so you can drink as many cups as you'd like without feeling guilty. Replacing sugary sodas and sports drinks with green tea can cut calories and help you reach your fitness goals sooner.
Regular tea consumption has been linked to lower risk of neurological disease and decreased stress levels. Green tea consumption has also shown promise in preventing cognitive decline associated with brain disease such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's. Tea offers natural calming effects that can reduce stress and help you unwind after a tough day.
Tea contains antioxidants that work to prevent oxidative stress, which can damage healthy cells. Antioxidants in tea eliminate free radicals caused by pollution and other factors, which can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to dementia and depression. Antioxidants also help cleanse the body of toxins that can cause mental health problems. Tea drinkers have been shown to have lower stress levels and improved overall health with regular consumption.
Drinking tea may help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent or control disease such as type 2 diabetes. Black tea has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels after eating a meal. The effects were demonstrated for up to 120 minutes after meal consumption. Researchers attribute theses health benefits to polyphenols in tea. These polyphenols boast anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers (3).
Tea helps streamline digestion and can treat a host of issues ranging from nausea and upset stomach to diarrhea. Ginger tea is an herbal tea that has long been used in China and India to treat upset stomach. The ingredients gingerol and shogaol helps to soothe the stomach lining to prevent vomiting. Peppermint tea also helps to soothe an upset stomach thanks to high levels of antioxidants and menthol.
Tea also contains tannins, which have been shown to reduce intestinal inflammation. This can help soothe stomach cramps and treat irritable bowel syndrome.
The potential health benefits of tea go far beyond simply improving immune system health. Drink tea daily to prevent the onset of neurological decline and help protect heart health.
Whether you prefer drinking green tea or herbal tea bags, you're sure to find a tea flavor you love. Explore the varied earthy and vegetal flavors of the true teas or mix it up with the floral, citrus, spicy, and fruity tastes of herbal teas. As long as you're drinking tea. You're sure to reap the health benefits of this delightful elixir.