Ask Amelia Food News Nutrition

5 Benefits of Tea and Which Kinds to Choose

benefits of tea

People all across the world have been drinking tea for centuries – for taste, for fun, and for better health. Tea is so ingrained into most cultures that many of us don’t even think twice about drinking it; we just do.

And luckily, this seems to be a very good thing.

So what benefits does drinking tea offer?

The science on this is still evolving, but this is what research has shown so far:

  • Drinking tea – especially green tea – can help boost the immune system by increasing the number of “regulatory T cells” in the body. It won’t necessarily prevent you from getting sick or cure an illness you already have, but tea may lessen the length or severity of a virus.
  • Drinking 3 or more cups of green or black tea everyday is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, at least in part because these seem to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • The polyphenols in tea have been linked with anti-cancer activity (many types of cancer), but the research on this is still young so we’re not sure how or how much tea lowers cancer risk.
  • Green tea consumption is linked with better functioning as you age, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. The tea seems to keep the mind sharper and make basic tasks like getting dressed or bathing – easier for older people.
  • Green tea may help with weight loss. If you are already cutting calories and working to practice healthier habits, drinking tea may also help you reach your weight loss goals. (Though research has shown that it takes 5 cups per day to have an effect).
Should I start drinking tea?

Unless you’re very sensitive to caffeine, it can’t hurt to drink tea regularly. It’s unlikely to be harmful, and may be beneficial in ways we don’t even know yet.

What kind of tea should you drink?
  • Choose an organic tea, to avoid drinking toxic chemicals that may have been sprayed on the leaves or plants
  • Green and black teas seem to have the most significant health benefits
  • High quality teas contain tea leaves and real essences or flowers, rather than flavorings
Any teas I should be wary of?

Some “functional” teas are more like supplements than beverages. I recommend avoiding these, simply because they can be quite strong and my cause unpleasant symptoms. If you do choose a medicinal tea, remember that the claims on the package are not regulated by the FDA or anyone else, so the tea may not do what it says it will do (and it can also have effects it doesn’t claim to have).

Is loose tea better than tea bags?

No. Both types can be high quality or low quality, so look for a high quality version of whichever type you prefer.

Are there any downsides to drinking tea?

If you drink hot, unsweetened, organic tea, probably not.  If you are the type to sweeten your tea (with either natural or artificial sweeteners) or choose bottled low quality tea with other additives (like Snapple, Arizona, etc) then you are probably better off drinking water.

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Miranda
    March 10, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Is Lipton Green Tea a good source? I have limited brand options 🙂

    • Reply
      Amelia
      March 11, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Look at the ingredients on the box – and if it just says “green tea leaves” or “green tea” then it’s probably a good choice. I know it’s hard to find organic in many places!

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