We have become a culture obsessed with coffee. In fact, according to a recent survey of American workers published in USA Today last year, Americans who regularly purchase coffee throughout the week spend an average of $1,092 on coffee per year.
While we love our coffee, it may benefit our health if we drank more tea. Scientific research is showing that tea, including the varieties of green, black, white and oolong, contains substances that may offer disease protection and boost our overall health. These teas are all derived from the “Camellia Sinensis” plant, an evergreen shrub native to China and India. Keep in mind that many herbal teas and those sugary tea “beverages” do not offer these same benefits.
Let’s take a look at seven reasons you should drink tea on a daily basis.
1. Tea can help ward off infection. The polyphenols and phytochemicals found in tea can boost the body’s immune system and fight infections caused by staph and streptococcus bacteria.
2. Drinking tea can boost your metabolism – and help you lose weight. The catechins, or antioxidants, in green tea have been shown to increase study participants’ metabolic rate. Research has found that you can burn 70 or more calories just by drinking five cups of green tea per day.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that, when compared to a control group, participants who consumed green tea and maintained an exercise program had greater reductions in their total abdominal fat area than participants who did not drink green tea.
3. Tea drinking is good for your heart. Tea might also help protect against certain cardiovascular and degenerative diseases. According to a research study from the Netherlands that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, tea consumption was connected with nearly a 50 percent reduction in severe atherosclerosis (narrowing and hardening of the arteries) in female study participants who drank one to two cups of tea daily. Women who drank more than five cups of tea a day had the lowest risk of atherosclerosis. A similar trend was found in male study participants.
A study published in the medical journal Stroke connected long-term consumption of black, green, oolong or white tea with an up to 60 percent reduction in stroke risk in study participants.
4. Tea is good for bone health. Studies have suggested that people who drink green tea may have higher bone mineral density and strength, and that drinking tea may protect against osteoporosis and fractures.
5. Tea may help prevent degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. The polyphenols in green tea may help boost cognitive function and may prevent certain neurotransmitters — dopamine and epinephrine — from degrading.
6. Tea is hydrating. Despite earlier warnings against the dehydrating effects of drinking caffeinated beverages, research is now suggesting that drinking tea does help hydrate the body. When you don’t add any sweetener or milk to it, tea is a satisfying calorie-free beverage.
7. Drinking tea can be good for your mouth. University of Chicago College of Dentistry researchers found that chemical components called polyphenols found in black teas work to decrease the production of acid in the mouth, helping to prevent periodontal disease. Tea also contains fluoride, which some say benefits dental health.
All tea is not the same. The more processed the leaves, the less the polyphenol content of the tea. Oolong and black teas are fermented or oxidized, so they have lower concentrations of polyphenols than green tea. Research is inconclusive on how long tea leaves need to steep before the benefits occur, but the optimal time seems to be about three to four minutes of steeping time in boiling water.
Limited research has been done on the health benefits of herbal teas, which are made from herbs, seeds, fruit or roots steeped in hot water, and their chemical compositions vary depending on the plant and the part of the plant that is used. Instant teas and many bottled teas contain little to no actual tea, so read the labels of these products carefully.
Next to water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, and some type of tea can be found in nearly 80 percent of American households, according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Touted by many cultures for centuries for its health benefits, tea can be an important part of a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Do you drink tea for good health? Share your tips in the section below: