The 6 Best Anti-Inflammatory Teas
Antioxidant-packed brews protect against diabetes, heart disease, cancer and more. Drink up!
Water may be life, but a close second is tea. The brew is a powerhouse when it comes to lowering inflammation, thanks to its potent antioxidants. Inflammation is linked with many chronic health conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.
Luckily, tea has plenty of health benefits. And when you want to try to lower inflammation in your body through tea, you don't have to stick to one variety. There are six teas—from green to black, ginger to chamomile—that can help your body put up its disease-fighting defenses. Here's what tea to sip to help you stay healthy.
Black tea may decrease diabetes risk
Go ahead and take it black: while black tea may not stand out as an exciting varietal, it's really good when it comes to avoiding diabetes. In a study in BMJ Open that looked at 50 countries, populations who drank the most black tea also had the lowest rates of diabetes. The fermentation process that turns green tea leaves to black produces different flavonoids, called theaflavins and thearubigins. While the reason isn't well understood, flavonoids may reduce inflammation, thereby improving glucose metabolism and insulin function, the authors point out.
Green tea keeps your heart strong
With its lower level of caffeine, you may be more comfortable sipping green tea throughout the day. The green brew, which comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, offers four important catechins (powerful plant compounds that are responsible for its health benefits), per a review in the journal Beverages in 2017. The one you know best: epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. EGCG is thought to suppress inflammation and block pro-inflammatory pathways to guard your heart from damage and, ultimately, protect against cardiovascular disease.
Peppermint tea has anti-cancer properties
The perk-you-up plant may be an invigorating sip, but it, too, quashes inflammation. Peppermint leaves pack phenols, including rosmarinic acid, as well as the flavonoids eriocitrin, luteolin and hesperidin. That said, you're most likely familiar with menthol, which is what leaves you with a cooling sensation when you sip mint tea. While more research needs to be done—particularly clinical studies in humans—these compounds are known to prevent inflammation and show some anticancer promise in lab studies. Certainly, that doesn't make the tea a treatment for cancer, but it doesn't hurt to include peppermint tea in an overall healthy diet.
Ginger tea protects your gut
It's time to take ginger out of your stir-fry and into your teacup. The rhizome is chockablock with phenols, including compounds like gingerols and shogaols. And beyond being a tummy soother for nausea and indigestion, preliminary animal research suggests these antioxidants may protect against inflammatory GI conditions like colitis, per a recent review by Chinese researchers. Another perk: Drink a cup after a tough workout—ginger has been shown to reduce post-exercise inflammation. (Learn more about the health benefits of ginger.)
Turmeric may treat arthritis
If ever there was a spice that was trendy, turmeric is it. Turmeric's meteoric rise to superfood fame has some basis in science—especially when it comes to relieving pain in conditions like arthritis. The main player in turmeric is curcumin, the compound that gives the spice its stunning golden hue. In a meta-analysis in the Journal of Medicinal Food on randomized clinical trials, turmeric extract was found to help treat symptoms of inflammatory joint conditions like pain and stiffness in a similar magnitude as pain medication. The only catch—curcumin isn't readily absorbed by the body, and you need a higher dose (about 1,000 mg of curcumin) to see these specific benefits. However, adding turmeric to your diet in all its forms, including tea, can be a smart part of your anti-inflammatory diet plan to dial down the pain of arthritis (find more reasons to love turmeric).
Chamomile may soothe your belly
Perhaps known best as a before-bed drink—we knock back 1 million cups a day worldwide—this caffeine-free tea is calming in multiple ways. Superstar chamomile chemicals chamazulene, alpha-bisabolol and apigenin are what gives the tea its anti-inflammatory properties. When you get down to the nitty-gritty, chamomile functions like a COX-2 inhibitor—a type of anti-inflammatory drug that's prescribed to treat pain. Turns out, a cup at night may be the ultimate relaxer for body and mind.