6 Amazing Health Benefits of Tea
Calling all tea drinkers! It turns out that this internationally beloved drink has a host of health benefits. Types of this popular drink can vary from energy-boosting caffeinated teas, like green tea and black tea, to soothing caffeine-free herbal teas, like chamomile tea and rooibos tea. As with other drinks like coffee, it's important to be mindful of what you are adding. Tea on its own has a bevy of health benefits and is calorie-free, but adding sugar and cream can increase the calories without much nutritional benefit. From helping improve mental clarity to reducing your cancer risk, tea actually has science to back up the health hype. Read on to see why drinking tea regularly is good for your body and mind.
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Tea May Help Keep Your Heart Healthy
Want to show your heart some love? Try rooibos tea. People at risk of developing heart disease (read: high cholesterol, high blood pressure or high BMI) significantly lowered their triglycerides and "bad" LDL cholesterol and raised their "good" HDL cholesterol by drinking six cups of this "red bush" tea daily over six weeks, says research published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.
Pictured: Soothing Ginger-Lemon Tea
Tea Could Slash Stroke Risk
Enjoying tea may help protect against a stroke, according to Chinese researchers. People drinking five or more cups a day had a 20% lower risk of having a stroke, compared to people who skipped this sip. One reason may be that tea is naturally rich in beneficial plant compounds called flavanols, which improve blood vessel function and reduce inflammation.
Drinking just one to two cups of oolong daily was linked to a lower stroke risk compared to non-tea drinkers (it took more than six cups of green tea to see the same protective effects). And even just ½ cup per day may lower your risk of high blood pressure, reported a review study in the August 2011 issue of Pharmacological Research.
Tea Can Help Manage Diabetes
Tea may also reduce your risk of diabetes by helping keep blood glucose and body weight in check. A 2016 review of human and animal studies found that people who drank four or more cups of tea daily had, on average, a 30% lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Specific teas may boost your benefits as well. For example, a study in Nutrition found that chamomile tea improved glycemic control (read: blood sugar fluctuations) in people with type 2 diabetes due to its high antioxidant content. Improving glycemic control helps manage diabetes and reduces the risk for people to develop diabetes in general.
People who drank 20 ounces of plain black tea daily for 12 weeks improved markers of heart health and decreased their fasting blood glucose, lowering their risk of type 2 diabetes, according to a study published in Preventive Medicine. Researchers think the catechins in black tea help keep your heart healthy by lowering triglycerides (fatty compounds found in your blood) and arming your body with antioxidants (which fight cell-damaging free radicals).
Tea Might Reduce Cancer Risk
Tea—especially green tea—may help you reduce your risk of cancer. A 2019 review published in the journal Medicine, found that habitual green tea sippers had a 17% lower risk of developing breast cancer than non-tea drinkers. Tea may have this effect because it is rich in antioxidants, which help defend against DNA damage that may be at the root of cancer. Scientists have found that one antioxidant tea compound, EGCG, inhibits tumor growth in esophageal cancer.
Tea Could Improve Sleep
Losing sleep? Passionflower tea may help. A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that people who drank a cup of passionflower tea about an hour before bed reported a better night's sleep than those who drank a placebo beverage.
However, when you're looking to cut down on stress and get better rest, watch out for the caffeine content in teas. A 2017 study in Nutrients found that those who drank low-caffeine green tea (which contained around 10 milligrams of caffeine per cup) had better sleep quality than those who drank standard green tea (about 50 mg caffeine per cup). The low-caffeine drinkers also had lower self-reported fatigue and stress levels, so their energy wasn't negatively impacted by cutting down. Decaf green tea is pretty easy to find at the store.
Chamomile is another tea that is widely used in natural medicine for inducing and improving sleep. A large review paper published in Electronic Physician hypothesized that chamomile's sleep-inducing benefits may be related to its antidepressive properties. Recent studies have found it can be especially helpful for groups with compromised sleep patterns, like postnatal women and older adults.
Read More: Healthy Tea Recipes
Tea Can Boost Creativity and Mood
When you need to spark creativity, sip on tea, suggests a recent study published in the journal Food Quality and Preference. When participants were given tasks to measure creativity, tea drinkers (as opposed to people who just drank water) came up with responses that were judged to be more innovative and outside-the-box. The immediate perk may have to do with our beliefs about tea drinkers: there's a perception that tea-drinkers are smart and innovative, so when you enjoy a cup yourself, you subconsciously embody those characteristics.
This isn't the only brain boon: other research suggests that the tea's natural compounds, namely EGCG and L-theanine, may encourage brain cell growth, reduce depression and promote both relaxation and alertness (think awake, without the jitters).
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Along with being comforting and refreshing, there are many health-related reasons to enjoy a cup of tea today. It can help you get through your afternoon fog and boost creativity while lowering stress. Several types of tea, as well as tea consumption in general, have been associated with healthy hearts. Drinking tea might even reduce your risk for cancer due to its high antioxidant content. We'll drink to that.