Black, white, green, oolong, rooibos, flavoured, herbal. Loose leaf or bagged. Milk and sugar or straight up. Tea comes in many varieties and the steps to crafting the perfect cuppa have been hotly debated for years. Black tea is the UK’s most popular type and confers the most benefits, but however you take it, you’ll be glad to know there will be at least a few extra perks besides the comforting taste. Here are x surprising health benefits of drinking tea. Put the kettle on, grab a cuppa and enjoy!
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10 Surprising Health Benefits Of Tea
1. Mood & Sleep Boosting
All teas contain L-theanine, a unique amino acid thought to help alleviate anxiety and promote calming relaxation. Aside from the obvious caffeine culprit, the likes of decaffeinated or green tea could improve sleep thanks to reducing stress. The act of making and drinking tea itself can be a calming ritual and offer people a moment out of what they’re doing, perhaps indirectly supporting mental health on such occasions.
2. Happy Arteries
Flavonoids in tea can boost endothelial function, reducing inflammation in the blood vessels and thus dilating them. In turn, this can help with overall arterial health and blood pressure. Studies have shown that short and long term consumption of tea improved the dilation of the brachial artery, effectively reversing endothelial vasomotor dysfunction in individuals with coronary artery disease, whereas water had no such effect.
3. Antioxidant & Anti-Inflammatory Properties
All tea has different flavonoids with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, both of which can reduce free radicals, reduce damage to cells in the body, and help in maintaining good general health. Getting your intake of antioxidants is thought best done through diet, both food and drink, rather than through supplements.
Polyphenols like thearubigins, catechise and theaflavins are key antioxidants found in black tea. Studies with rats have suggested the latter can reduce both blood sugar levels and cholesterol.
A research study has even suggested that the antioxidant properties of white tea in particular may help in fighting certain types of cancer.
4. Soothe Sickness & Indigestion
Ginger tea, much like ginger sweets, can be helpful for nausea or morning sickness. Tea with ginger can also alleviate chronic indigestion.
5. Benefits Circulation & Cholesterol
Rooibos tea, also known as red tea, bush tea and reddish tea, is made from fermenting leaves of the Aspalathus linearis shrub, which grows in South Africa. Rooibos is high in antioxidants and unique polyphenols like aspalathin. The compounds found in Rooibos are thought to represent damage from free radicals that can contribute to the development of conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Rooibos tea is thought to be good for improving circulation and blood pressure. It has also been linked to boosting up good cholesterol and reducing bad cholesterol levels.
Green tea is also very high in flavonoids, so going green is also a great option for heart health, reducing blood clotting and lowering bad cholesterol.
6. Brain Protection
Those same antioxidant, anti-inflammatory flavonoids are thought to be “neuroprotective”, meaning they can protect the nerve cells found in the brain and nervous system from deterioration and damage. This may help in reducing cognitive decline related to the ageing process.
Tea with caffeine can, perhaps rather obviously, help with keeping you awake and mentally alert, which may help you stay focused when you need it.
Oolong tea contains the amino acid l-theanine, which can increase mental alertness and attention while reducing anxiety. Research suggests l-theanine can also play a role to some degree in the prevention of cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5986534/
7. Improved Strength & Fitness
Who’d have thought that a cuppa could improve your physical abilities? Well, a research-based paper entitled “Tea for Sport and Fitness: A Scoping Review” covers research that found just that. Men who were given mate tea (a caffeine-rich traditional South American infused tea) experienced an improvement 24 hours after exercise in their strength recovery. Women with muscle wastage who imbibed 350ml of tea per day over 3 months showed improved speeds of walking and muscle mass strength.
8. Supports Diabetes Management
Studies have shown that the antioxidant aspalathin in rooibos tea could confer so-called “anti diabetic” benefits. An animal study found aspalathin improved glucose intolerance and suppressed the increase in resting glucose levels.
High blood sugar can contribute to vascular inflammation, but aspalathin could reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and vascular inflammation. This is particularly important when considering diabetics are thought to be 2 to 4 times more likely to suffer or even die from heart disease.
It’s not just rooibos that contains aspalathin. Unfermented green tea contains higher levels than red rooibos.
9. Go Green For Weight Loss
Various studies have suggested that certain teas, particularly matcha green tea, can promote weight loss. One study found that more sedentary women who were given three cups of green tea per day throughout an 8 week period lost weight from around their middle. Another found that four cups during 24 hours led to increased fax oxidation when the tea-drinking volunteers undertook a brisk 30 minute walk.
10. White Tea For Healthy Teeth
One of the surprising health benefits of tea seems a little contradictory. While tannins in tea can stain our teeth, certain tea could actually help our gnashers. White tea comes from a plant native to India and China, the camellia sinensis. It’s a good source of catechise, tannins and fluoride, which can help to strengthen teeth and increase their acid and sugar resistance, as well as fight plaque.
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How Much Tea Do You Need For The Health Benefits?
It has been suggested that both short and long term tea consumption can have benefits, and that four cups a day may be the optimal amount. The exact measure of the cup size isn’t noted, so there may be a difference between a regular mug and the giant mugs I typically use. It seems the majority of the British public consume tea, with 77% drinking it on a regular basis. But tea is an international language, appreciated worldwide as it gives drinkers a moment of warm comfort in their days.
If you add a dash of milk, you’ll get the benefits of calcium, B vitamins, vitamin D, potassium and more. If you add sugar to sweeten the deal, be mindful that a couple of spoonfuls per cup could add up if you have a particular need for sugar reduction or weight management.
Sugar-free tea is a good option to maintain adequate hydration each day. Public Health England, alongside health bodies in other countries, typically recommend around 8 drinks per day, or 2L. However, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggest 3.7L for men and 2.7L for women. If you’re not sure how much you’re getting, it might be an idea to measure your cups and glasses, then jot down your intake in an average day. It’s good to be aware of the risk, albeit very rare, of fluid intoxication from drinking too much fluid, especially drinking too much too quickly, as it can be incredibly dangerous and potentially life-threatening.
A quick note on types of tea – Black, green and oolong tea all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis, they differ because of how the leaves are processed. Herbal teas can come from various other plants, a mix of flowers, roots, leaves and other plant components. Some potential benefits are more researched and tangible than others.
How do you like your tea?