I’m always looking to be healthier. That entails eating less ice cream at night, starting a meditation routine and drinking more tea. Despite growing up with tea-drinking parents, coffee has been a regular part of my morning routine.
No matter the day of the week, for the past 15 years I’ve had a wake-up ritual of grinding beans, pouring the grounds into a filter and hitting the brew button on the machine. But a tea talk at a recent nutrition conference inspired me to rediscover the benefits of that other brewed drink.
Here are some reasons why:
1. Heart Health
Tea is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids. These active compounds prevent the oxidation of bad cholesterol or “LDL” and reduce blood clotting in the body.
2. Your Pearly Whites
Tea has also been shown to have anti-cavity properties. It can reduce the cavity causing effects of starches by suppressing an enzyme in our mouths that starts digestion. The natural fluoride found in tea leaves may also promote tooth health, especially when coupled with fluoridated tap water.
3. Improved Mood and Concentration
Caffeine in tea can promote mental alertness, memory and reduce fatigue. A nice boost for those rough mornings.
4. Less Caffeine
Although caffeine has its benefits, too much can lead to jitters, insomnia and headaches. These effects are less common in tea, as it contains a fraction of the caffeine in coffee. Another substance in tea called L-theanine may induce relaxation and take the edge off of caffeine too.
5. Other Health Benefits
Emerging science on the substances in tea suggest that it may reduce cancer risk, promote weight loss and bone health and improve glycemic control. While the science on these issues isn’t settled, they’re a nice bonus to the already long list of reasons to drink tea.
Convinced? Before hitting up a box of tea bags, there are some important things to keep in mind.
• Most studies have been on green and black teas, so its unclear what benefits can be found in other types (e.g. white, yellow, herbals/infusions).
• Steer clear of sugar-sweetened teas. Sugar from these kinds of drinks may offset any benefits from tea.
• Adding milk to tea may reduce its antioxidant activity.
• Brewing times, temperature and ratios of water and tea often vary. Check with the manufacturer for directions.
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