Ahhhh … a warm mug of tea can make you feel good on a cold day, but did you know tea is actually good for you? From cancer prevention and immune system support to controlling cholesterol and high blood pressure, there are many health benefits associated with drinking tea. Here’s what you need to know:
Real Tea Has the Most Antioxidants
Only green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, and Pu-erh tea are considered the real thing. The real tea is derived from a particular plant (Camellia sinensis), a shrub native to China and India, and contains unique antioxidants called flavonoids. The most potent of these, known as ECGC, may help against free radicals that can contribute to cancer, heart disease, and clogged arteries. Anything else (like herbal “tea”) is an infusion of a different plant and isn’t technically tea.
The more processed the tea leaves, usually the less polyphenol content. Polyphenols include flavonoids. Oolong and black teas are oxidized or fermented, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea; but they still have antioxidant power. Green tea is not processed much before it’s poured in your cup, so it’s rich in catechins.
How Much Should You Drink
Harvard Health Publications recommends drinking a few cups of green tea each day to gain its benefits and says that in tea-drinking cultures, three cups per day is a normal amount. The University of Maryland Medical Center bases its dosage recommendation on the amount of polyphenols, or active antioxidant compounds, in green tea. It suggests getting 240 to 320 milligrams of polyphenols each day – the amount in two to three cups, depending on the brand.
Seven Reasons Why Tea is Good for Your Health
- Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Unwanted blood clots formed from cholesterol and blood platelets cause heart attack and stroke. Drinking tea may help keep your arteries smooth and clog-free, the same way a drain keeps your bathroom pipes clear. A five-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
- Tea protects your bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors.
- Tea bolsters your immune defenses. Drinking tea may help your body’s immune system fight off infection. When 21 volunteers drank either five cups of tea or coffee each day for four weeks, researchers saw higher immune system activity in the blood of the tea drinkers.
- Tea increases your metabolism. Lots of people complain about a slow metabolic rate and their inability to lose weight. Green tea has been shown to actually increase metabolic rate so that you can burn 70 to 80 additional calories by drinking just five cups of green tea per day. Over a year’s time you could lose eight pounds just by drinking green tea. Of course, taking a 15-minute walk every day will also burn calories.
- Tea can boost exercise endurance. Scientists have found that the catechins (antioxidants) in green tea extract increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel, which accounts for improved muscle endurance.
- Tea has antioxidants. The antioxidants in tea might help protect against cancer, including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lunch, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostate and oral cancers. Of course, tea is not a miracle cure. More studies than not suggest that tea has cancer-fighting benefits, the current research is mixed.
- Tea is linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease. When considered with other factors like smoking, physical activity, age and body mass index, regular tea drinking was associated with a lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease in both men and women.