Even though we see the world drinking the heck out of sodas and sugary drinks, you might be surprised that tea is one of the most valued and widely consumed drinks in the world. Besides having no calories, inexpensive and being pretty darn tasty, it also has a unique set of natural chemicals that provide various therapeutic benefits. As more research is conducted, tea — specifically green and black — demonstrates significant anti-cavity, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties.
Most importantly, tea improves brain function, fat loss, a lower risk of cancer and many other incredible benefits. Many of the bioactive compounds in tea leaves contain large amounts of important nutrients. For example, it is loaded with polyphenols, like catechins and flavonoids, which function as powerful antioxidants These substances can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to play a role in aging and all sorts of diseases.
One of the more powerful compounds in green tea is the antioxidant Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties. Green tea also has small amounts of minerals that are important for health. Below are a few of the major benefits of tea:
1. Healthy Heart
Tea consumption is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. Recent research suggests that people who drink at least one cup of tea daily have nearly a 50% lower risk of heart attack, and some animal studies have demonstrated that tea also lowers cholesterol levels.
2. Lowers the Risk of Cancer
Other research demonstrates that tea is beneficial in preventing various forms of cancer including stomach, lung, bladder, esophageal, colorectal, breast, pancreatic and prostate. The catechins found in tea prevent the formation and growth of tumors, deactivate certain carcinogens and help avoid cell mutation. Drinking as many as four cups a day, however, may be necessary to reap the anti-cancer benefits.
It’s also thought that catechins found in tea, specifically black and green tea, create thermogenesis, which is the production of heat within the body that is related to burning calories. These compounds may inhibit certain chemicals in the brain, which prolong thermogenesis. In one research study, participants who drank four cups of tea daily had remarkably higher fat oxidation and burned an average of 70 additional calories a day. Drinking at least three cups a day is recommended to raise the body’s metabolic rate.
4. Healthy Bones
Drinking tea consistently 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.
5. Promotes Good Oral Health
Along with the natural fluoride found in tea, polyphenols and catechins are associated with killing bacteria that cause gum disease, bad breath, tooth decay and tooth loss. In fact, consumption of one or more cups of green tea a day can significantly decrease the risk of tooth loss. Adding sweeteners to tea, however, may negate these benefits.
More Good News
Regular tea has been shown in some research to be more beneficial than decaffeinated tea, and brewed tea contains more beneficial properties than instant. Additionally, tea bags contain the same beneficial properties as loose leaf tea, however, the health benefits in tea degrade over time, so it’s best to drink freshly brewed tea that is hot.
Finally, try to choose a higher quality brand of tea, because some of the lower quality brands can contain excessive levels of fluoride, which recent studies suggest may be bad for oral health. That being said, even if you choose a lower quality brand, the benefits still far outweigh any risk.