The Health Benefits of Drinking Tea
A cup of tea is a pleasant way to enjoy many potentially important health benefits. Learn about the latest research and the most effective ways to consume tea for health purposes.
Understand the Health Claims
- Distinguish between different kinds of tea. All tea comes from one plant called Camellia sinensis. Depending on how it's processed, it becomes green, black, white or oolong. All teas seem to have some health benefits, but those that are less processed are superior so you may want to focus on green and white teas.
Learn about the basis for the health claims. The power of tea comes from the antioxidants it contains that can slow down cell damage due to aging and diseases like cancer. In particular, tea contains a category of antioxidants called catechins that are even more effective than vitamins C and E in boosting your immune system.
Recognize the limitations. The Food and Drug Administration concludes that there is insufficient evidence to allow tea manufacturers to put health claims on their labels about lowering the risk of heart disease or cancer. Still, many health experts think a growing body of research is promising, if still tentative.
- Keep up with relevant research. Tea has been credited with reducing the risk for many cancers as well as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Other benefits may include lower cholesterol, improved memory and burning body fat more efficiently.
Manage Potentially Harmful Interactions
- Relax about iron absorption. You may have heard that the tannins in tea and coffee interfere with your body's ability to absorb iron. Fortunately, most Americans get more iron than they need so it's usually not an issue.
- Avoid mixing tea with aspirin and some prescription drugs. Consuming tea and aspirin together can cause internal bleeding because they both inhibit platelets from clotting. The same is true for prescription blood thinners. Follow your doctor's recommendations for all prescription drugs.
- Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns about caffeine. Caffeine is a mild stimulant that's safe for most people in moderation. On the other hand, you may want to discuss consuming any caffeinated beverages with your doctor if you take drugs for conditions like high blood pressure or heart disease.
Get The Most Benefits
Give tea time to steep. Steeping brings out the catechins in tea as well as the full flavor. Let it sit for three to five minutes.
- Aim for about 3 cups a day. Based on countries where people drink a lot of tea, it's reasonable to assume that several cups a day is a safe level. Brew a pot to make refills more convenient.
Visit a tea shop. If most supermarket brands leave you feeling disappointed, visit a tea shop to discover new blends. You can sample a cup before buying a batch you like to take home.
Switch from soft drinks to tea. While many doctors think some of the worst charges against soda may be exaggerated, sugary soft drinks are taking a toll on public health. The empty calories contribute to obesity and colas may lower mineral bone density. Tea is a healthier choice.
- Read the labels on bottled tea. Many bottled teas contain very little tea and may be loaded with sugar. Brew the real thing instead.
- Opt for tea rather than supplements. Scientists still know very little about the individual ingredients in tea. You're likely to get more advantages from drinking actual tea than taking a pill.
A few cups of tea a day is an easy way to put more antioxidants into your diet and may help protect you from many serious diseases. Talk with your doctor about your individual concerns and make tea part of your daily routine.