What’s "the Tea" with Drinking Tea?
There are many associations made with drinking a hot cup of tea; it can be comforting when you are not feeling well, warm you up on a cold day, or help you wind down at night. What may be less well known is that tea can be good for your body in so many other ways too. Read more to learn about some of the health-boosting benefits of tea.
Rich in Antioxidants and Flavonoids
Teas are rich in antioxidants that can help your body detoxify and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Green teas are very high in antioxidants and have been linked to reducing the risk of certain cancers like liver, breast, prostate and colorectal. Matcha tea is a popular type of green tea made by crushing green tea leaves into a fine powder. Since matcha is the only tea form in which the leaves are digested, it contains the highest concentration of antioxidants compared to other teas.
Most teas contain flavonoids, which also have antioxidant properties. Flavonoids help reduce the risk for chronic diseases, in part due to their anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting effects on the body. A diet rich in flavonoids has been linked to lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke. Fun fact: white teas are the least processed of teas so they contain an especially high level of antioxidants and flavonoids.
Improves Dental Health
Did you know white teas are a good source of fluoride? Fluoride is an essential mineral for keeping your teeth strong and bright. White teas also contain catechins and tannins, which in combination with fluoride can help fight plaque, strengthen enamel, and make teeth more resistant to sugars and acids.
While it is true that like coffee and red wine, black and herbal teas can stain your teeth over time, there are some ways you can prevent this. Simply practicing good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth regularly, and swishing your mouth with water or drinking a glass of water after a cup of tea can help reduce staining.
Boosts Heart Health
Green teas are especially high in flavonoids, which help to support heart health by lowering LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol and reducing blood clotting. Green tea has also been shown to help reduce other risk factors for cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure and triglyceride levels. These factors can reduce the risk of heart disease, heart attacks and stroke.
Has Anti-inflammatory Effects
Herbal teas can have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases like inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis and Alzheimer’s, along with things like joint pain and swelling. Green tea contains ECGC (epigallocatechin-3-gallate), a polyphenol that’s been shown to help relieve some symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And you don’t have to drink the tea to reap all of these benefits – topical application of tea bags (once steamed and cooled) can help reduce the swelling and pain from minor cuts and bruises or provide relief from a rash or poison ivy. In fact, you could even take a black tea bath to reduce the inflammation caused by poison ivy!
Prevents Cognitive Diseases
Some teas not only improve your physical health but can improve your mental health by promoting better brain health and functioning. For example, the Chinese oolong tea has benefits for your mental health like reducing anxiety and stress. It can also prevent some cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, teas with caffeine can make you feel awake and alert, which will ultimately give your mood a boost.
Bottom Line: Drinking tea goes above and beyond that comforting feeling and can actually be beneficial for your body and brain. If you are not a fan of hot tea, try making a batch of iced tea. Simply bring a pot of eight cups of water to a simmer, add six of your favorite tea bags, and after it has steeped for about four minutes and cooled off you can put it in a pitcher in the fridge.
Learn more about healthy living and other wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by Claire McDonald, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.