Aside from water, tea is the most widely drunk beverage in the world. There are four main types of tea, which all come from the same plant called Camellia sinensis. They are differentiated through harvesting and processing to yield the black, white, green, and oolong teas people are familiar with. The plant is native to China and India and the drink has for thousands of years been linked to good health, happiness, and wisdom. However, recently, western researchers have also begun delving into the possible health benefits of tea.
Keep in mind that though tea itself has many benefits, adding refined sugars and sweeteners may be just as harmful as drinking soda. Choose well-brewed and healthy teas without additives to take advantage of the many advantages tea has to offer.
Weight Loss/Metabolic Benefits
Drinking tea seems to be helpful in keeping your waistline under control. Studies have found that tea can boost exercise endurance through the antioxidants it contains, allowing the body to burn fat as fuel and consequently improving muscle endurance. Furthermore, regular tea drinkers have been found to have lower BMIs and are slimmer than their non-tea drinking counterparts. Scientists also speculate that drinking tea may reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and related diseases including diabetes, artery disease, and stroke.
Drinking tea, particularly white tea, has been shown to reduce stress levels. When the Journal of Physiological Anthropology compared stress levels in students drinking green tea, white tea, and water, all students drinking tea had lower stress levels, though wider studies are still looking to confirm this.
A Brain Boost
Those looking to protect their brain from memory loss should perhaps start drinking tea daily. Certain studies suggest that tea could be used as an effective prevention and treatment for neurological diseases, particularly degenerative diseases. Tea may lower the risk of both dementia and Alzheimer’s thanks to the polyphenols that help maintain the brain regions regulating learning and memory.
Cardiovascular Health Benefits and Disease Prevention
Studies have also proven that tea is good for improving cardiovascular health. Heavy tea drinkers showed significantly lower risks of dying from cardiovascular disease. Also, not only are stroke, artery disease, and heart attacks less of a risk for tea drinkers, but the antioxidants also serve as protection against a myriad of other diseases, including Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, drinking tea may also help counteract the negative effects of smoking as well as radiation exposure.
Tea’s most studied polyphenol Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is particularly effective at destroying free radicals and decreasing tumor growth in laboratory animals. Research and evidence suggest that tea antioxidants may help prevent a wider variety of cancers ranging from breast, colon, and the skin to lung, stomach, liver, and oral cancers, amongst others. Though research is still needed to confirm these suggestions, scientists note that countries with high rates of green tea consumption have lower rates of cancer than those that don’t.
EGCG may also be beneficial for those struggling with joint health, particularly arthritis. Green tea has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and preliminary research also suggests that other agents within tea may prevent cartilage from breaking down. Lab studies by Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland have shown that EGCG may also slow or even stop arthritic progression by blocking pro-inflammatory cells that damage cartilage.