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Not a Tea Drinker? Here are 4 Reasons to Start

It’s so easy to grab a cold drink from your fridge, but that trendy flavored seltzer probably isn’t doing a ton for your health. Enter unsweetened tea! Both the black and green varieties contain polyphenols (a type of antioxidant), which have been shown to have a host of health benefits. Read on for more reasons why you should start having tea time.

Tea keeps you hydrated. Don’t like the taste of plain water? Swap some of your glasses for tea. Whether the tea is hot or iced, you’ll still be getting those cups of unsweetened fluids your body needs. While caffeine content won’t necessarily affect hydration, too much caffeine can cause headaches (and keep you up at night), so switch to decaf varieties after lunch.

Tea helps your ticker. Both green and black teas could help your cardiovascular system. “The antioxidants in tea help protect the heart and lower your risk of heart disease, even at just a cup a day,” says Heidi Skolnik, MS, a sports nutritionist in New York City and author of Nutrition Timing for Peak Performance. Studies have found an association between intake of flavonoids (like catechins in green tea and theaflavins in black tea) and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, though more research is needed. And a meta-analysis of tea studies found that consuming at least three cups a day of black or green tea could help reduce the risk of stroke.

Tea can protect your cells. Tea’s polyphenols may help protect cells from DNA damage that can lead to cancer. One meta-analysis found an association between a lower risk of lung cancer and drinking two cups a day of green tea, while another found an association between increasing your green tea consumption and a lower risk of endometrial cancer. Of course, more research is needed to find out what exactly leads to these results.

Tea can help you concentrate. You know that the caffeine in tea can make you feel more alert. But did you know that L-theanine, a flavorful amino acid in tea leaves, also helps you concentrate and focus? In addition, tea consumption has been associated with feelings of relaxation and improved mood. Perhaps that’s why the tea-loving Brits are able to keep calm and carry on.

Find other great health and wellness stories at BHG.com/Strive, EatingWell.com/Strive, MarthaStewart.com/Strive, Parents.com/Strive and Shape.com/Strive.