People have been drinking tea for enjoyment for centuries. For just as long, tea drinkers have believed that tea is beneficial to one’s health. In ancient China, tea was thought to prevent liver disease and cleanse the body. Scientific studies in recent years have shown that there are true health benefits to gain from drinking tea. what can you do for yourself by drinking tea? Here are ten benefits:
1. Prevent ovarian cancer - A 15-year study of over 60,000 women in Sweden showed that drinking two cups of tea per day lowered the risk of ovarian cancer by 46%; drinking one cup of tea per day produced a 24% reduction.
2. Prevent weight gain - Every time you opt for a cup of tea instead of a sugary soft drink for your caffeine boost, you avoid up to 200 calories. Plain tea has zero calories (however, you will take in some calories if you add milk and sugar). And with a new study showing that just one to two soft drinks per day can raise your diabetes risk by 26%, choosing tea will significantly lower your risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
3. Increase metabolic rate - The caffeine and polyphenols in tea speed up your metabolism and increase efficiency of insulin uptake. There is also some evidence that drinking green tea can actually promote weight loss by increasing the rate of fat oxidation in the body. One study found that moderately obese patients who consumed a green tea extract experience a 4.6% weight loss over 3 months.
4. Strengthen bones - A study comparing tea drinkers to non-tea drinkers found that those who drank tea over 10 years or more had significantly stronger bones than the non-drinkers, even after adjusting for other risk factors.
5. Increase hydration - The rule of thumb on fluid intake used to be that caffeinated beverages didn’t count because caffeine acts as a diuretic. But recent research has found that in moderate amounts, caffeinated beverages increase your hydration too. And tea makes a tasty change from drinking nothing but water all day long.
6. Prevent stroke - A research paper presented at the 2009 Stroke Conference stated that drinking 3 or more cups of tea per day lowered the risk of stroke by 21%. This is thought to caused by the flavonoids in tea, which promote efficient dilation of blood vessels, and effective oxidation of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol.
7. Boost your immune system - Regular tea drinkers have been found to have up to five times the production of anti-bacterial proteins (T-cells) in their systems than non-tea drinkers. For this reason, tea is also thought to help boost the immune system of HIV-positive patients and other people with compromised immune systems.
8. Protect your teeth - The fluoride and tannins in tea help fight plaque in your mouth, and depresses bacteria growth, leading to sweeter breath. But beware -- adding sugar to your tea cancels this effect out.
9. Keep your mind sharp - A 2006 Japanese study showed that elderly people who drank 2 or more cups of green tea daily had a 50% lower rate of cognitive impairment than those who drank less tea, or other beverages.
10. Decrease your stress levels - The claim that a cup of tea is relaxing is not just advertising hype. Researchers at University College in London found that after doing stressful tasks, regular tea drinkers experienced a 20% faster rate of decrease in cortisol levels than those in the control group. Cortisol is a hormone produced by stress in the body, and high levels over time contribute to high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. In addition, the caffeine “buzz” from tea comes on over a period of about 15 minutes, leading to a gradual increase rather than the fast jolt one gets from coffee.
Many of the studies show that adding milk, sugar, sweeteners or lemon to the tea can inhibit some of these positive effects, so opting for unsweetened tea is the best choice. And whether you consume your tea hot or iced, make sure to brew it nice and hot to get the maximum amount of tannins (and flavor!).
It is important to note that these results all apply to either black or green tea made from the plant Camellia sinensis. Herbal teas may have other health benefits but do not contain true tea leaves. Both green and black teas have been shown to have various good effects on health, and a good option may be to mix up your intake between the two. Since green tea has a lower caffeine level than black tea, switching to green in the afternoon might be an option to prevent any interference with your sleep.