Tea: a warm, toasty beverage, comforting in a way that makes one think of lazy days on the couch with five blankets and a pile of books.
But tea isn’t just awesome at warming you up. When you’re sipping your favorite herbal blend, it’s also working in stealth mode to help various parts of your body. That’s right. There are many health benefits to drinking tea, from the regulation of blood pressure to the reduction of anxiety.
“There doesn’t seem to be a downside to tea,” American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., RD, LD, told WebMD. “I think it’s a great alternative to coffee drinking. First, tea has less caffeine. It’s pretty well established that the compounds in tea–their flavonoids–are good for the heart and may reduce cancer.”
Which is good news, and perhaps even a good excuse to start hosting tea parties. In fact, a friend of mine in L.A. has people over every Sunday for tea time, and I think it’s an idea that should start trending.
Here are some of favorite teas and their health benefits, giving you the perfect excuse to drink up.
1. Green Tea
Green tea alone has a multitude of health benefits, from improving blood flow to lowering cholesterol.
For one thing, green tea is rich in antioxidants, which can help keep us healthy by stopping and preventing the cell damage caused by the production of too many oxidants in the body. When too many oxidants build up in the body, we’re at a greater risk of developing several types of cancer. The antioxidants in green tea also helps the heart. They reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and congestive heart failure.
Not only that, but green tea helps keep blood sugar in check for those with diabetes, and can help our brains, too, by delaying the deterioration caused by Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. And as if that weren’t enough, green tea can be part of the solution if you suffer from depression or anxiety. The theanine (an amino acid) in the tea leaves produces a calming effect.
Finally, green tea can help reduce sun damage and improve the overall appearance of your skin. Who knew?!
Green tea tip: Add lemon to help make the antioxidants easier to absorb.
2. Black Tea
Black tea has countless health benefits, too. Aside from containing caffeine and being a stimulant, it also contains antioxidants. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the fluoride content in black tea helps your teeth. Black tea may also be good at lowering the risk of other serious issues, such as Parkinson’s disease, heart attacks, ovarian cancer and atherosclerosis.
3. Herbal Tea
While there are many teas out there to help you become more alert, there are just as many caffeine-free alternatives to help you sleep. So listen up, insomniacs. If you’re looking for the best tea to have right before bedtime, seek out ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root, spearmint, lavender, lemongrass and licorice root.
4. Peppermint, Chamomile And Ginger Teas
If you have an upset stomach, look no further than peppermint, chamomile and ginger teas.
We’ve mentioned the benefits of peppermint oil before. It turns out drinking peppermint tea can work just as well at calming an upset stomach. Chamomile, meanwhile, will also help your nervous stomach and your heartburn, and will help make you more calm, overall. And we can’t forget about ginger, which will not only help your stomach, but can also help to fight nausea or vomiting.
5. All Tea
As long as you don’t add sugar, tea is calorie-free.
“It’s a great no-calorie alternative to water,” Leslie Bonci, nutritionist and owner of Active Eating Advice, told Today. “It provides so many options for flavor and versatility. You can have it hot or cold. And you don’t have to put anything in it, though you might want to add a cinnamon stick or some ginger. That means you’re able to hydrate with something other than water alone.”
As someone who regularly adds chopped ginger or peppermint leaves to tea, I completely agree with Bonci’s advice.
So there you go. Even more reasons to brew a cup of tea right about now. Not only is it a flavorful alternative to water, it’s good for you, too.