Tea is one of the most valued and widely consumed drinks in the world. Besides being a delicious, inexpensive beverage that has no calories, tea has a unique set of natural chemicals that provide various therapeutic benefits. As more research is conducted, tea, specifically black and green, demonstrates significant antiviral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticavity properties.
1. Oral Health
Along with the natural fluoride found in tea, polyphenols and catechins are associated with killing bacteria that cause tooth decay, bad breath, and gum disease-the number one cause for tooth loss. A study published this year by the European Journal of Nutrition found that consumption of one or more cups of green tea a day was significantly associated with decreasing the risk of tooth loss. Adding sugar, honey, or other sweeteners to tea however, may negate these benefits.
2. Bone Health
Routine tea consumption, especially for more than 10 years, has been associated with decreasing the risk of osteoporotic fractures. It's thought that tea helps diminish bone loss through antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Additionally, tea's health-promoting properties are thought to suppress the breakdown of bone while increasing the amount and activity of bone building cells.
3. Weight Loss
Evidence is still inconclusive in this area, but it's thought that the catechins found in tea, specifically green tea, create thermogenesis-the production of heat within the body which is related to burning calories. These compounds may inhibit certain chemicals in the brain, therby prolonging thermogenesis. In one study, participants who drank four cups of tea daily had remarkably higher fat oxidation (by 12 percent) and burned an average of 67 additional calories a day. Drinking at least three cups a day is recommended to raise the body's metabolic rate.
Numerous research has demonstrated that tea is beneficial in preventing cancer including prostate, pancreatic, breast, colorectal, esophageal, bladder, lung, and stomach. The catechins found in tea prevent cell mutation, deactivate certain carcinogens, and reduce the formation and growth of tumors. Drinking as many as four cups a day may be necessary to reap the anti-cancer benefits.
5. Heart Health
Tea consumption is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Research published by Harvard demonstrates that people who drink at least one cup of tea daily have a 44 percent lower risk of heart attack. Some animal studies have demonstrated that tea also lowers cholesterol levels.
Before you run off to start guzzling tea, there are a few things you should know:
• Regular tea has been shown in some research to be more beneficial than decaffeinated tea.
• Brewed tea contains more beneficial properties than instant.
• Tea bags contain the same beneficial properties as loose leaf tea.
• For full health benefits, brew tea for at least 3 minutes.
• The health benefits in tea degrade over time, it is best to drink freshly brewed tea that is hot (but not scalding).
• Caffeine may have adverse effects when combined with medications; speak to a qualified health care provider or pharmacist if you take any medications or supplements.
Mandy Seay is a bilingual registered and licensed dietitian who holds both a bachelor's degree in nutrition and in journalism. After gaining 30 pounds while living abroad, Mandy worked to lose the weight and regain her health. It was here that she discovered her passion for nutrition and went on to pursue a career as a dietitian. Mandy currently works as a nutrition consultant and freelance writer in Austin, Texas, where she specializes in diabetes, weight management and general and preventive nutrition. She recently published her first book, Your Best Health, a personalized program to losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle. Please visit Mandy's website at Nutritionistics.com.