You already know that tea can improve your skin and help keep you fit and trim, but did you know that it also does amazing things for your health?
Tea has been around for millenia. Through that time, the Chinese have drunk it for everything from hangover prevention to weight control and common cold reduction. Now, modern scientific research has given us a much better insight into how tea improves health and to what benefit.
True tea, or that from the Camellia sinensis plant, includes white, green, oolong, black and pu-erh. All of them contain antioxidants, catechins, and polyphenols, which positively impact our bodies.
Let's dive into what the research shows.
1. Lowered cholesterol
Media-favorite green tea was found to help lower cholesterol, both total serum cholesterol and LDL, according to a meta-study published June 2011 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Most sources suggest five cups per day will provide results, but multiple studies have shown that higher consumption leads to the biggest drop in cholesterol.
Tea is thought to work by inhibiting the absorption of cholesterol from the large intestine. Among the Chinese, pu-erh tea is the most renowned in its ability to lower cholesterol, though only minimal clinical research has investigated this traditional belief.
2. Blindness prevention
Since tea contains high levels of antioxidants, it is not surprising that studies have found them in eye tissue. In fact, drinking tea can help to prevent the blindness caused by cataracts (the clouding of the lens inside the eye), said a 2001 study.
3. Reduced cortisol levels
Cortisol is the stress hormone that contributes to belly fat and makes your skin age quicker. One recent study suggested four cups of tea per day may make your cortisol levels spike less.
If you're looking to have cortisol levels drop back down to normal faster after a stressful event, a 2006 study suggested daily consumption of tea for six weeks will do just that (as compared to placebo).
Both studies found that tea consumption may reduce the impact of cortisol, thus slowing the aging process and preventing the widening of your mid-section.
Active compounds in tea can help to lower levels of inflammation and inflammatory reactions. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, inflammation is connected to almost every modern ailment, including arthritis, metabolic syndrome, and depression. Inflammation can also cause you to retain water and look puffy, so a few cups of tea can help you look and feel thinner.
Want a healthier heart? A 2007 study indicated the lower inflammation levels resulting from green tea consumption may help to protect against cardiovascular disease.
5. Increased memory, focus & concentration
Extensive research has shown that the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine, a naturally-occurring amino acid found in tea, improves reaction time and memory, while increasing focus and concentration (think of monks meditating).
Go for a cup of tea — perhaps white tea — before a meeting when you need to be sharp, or drink it during a test for increased concentration and focus.
With spring coming up, now is time to start searching for your favorite tea. Why? A 2007 Japanese study found that the tea polyphenol, EGCG, may be helpful for reducing pollen allergies. Tea may also reduce allergic response through quercetin, a flavonol naturally-occurring in tea, which is known to mitigate histamine response.
Yes, you can add locally produced honey to your tea to double-up the anti-allergy power.
7. Decreased risk of stroke
Drinking at least three cups of green or black tea per day results in a 21% reduction in the risk of ischemic stroke, according to 2009 meta-study. Start your tea habit now, to begin protecting yourself earlier.
8. Reduced risk of dementia
To stay sharp, even as you age, drink tea, as it is thought to lower the risk of dementia by acting through multiple pathways, including those of nerve synapses and blood sugar regulation. A 2011 study also found that tea acts on brain theta waves to improve memory and increase attention span — yet another reason to start drinking tea early in life.
9. Improved overall health markers
Tea drinkers tend to be healthier, which proves true in research too, as tea drinking correlates with better health outcomes.
You can support your health, including your skin and body composition, with as few as 2-3 cups per day of this calorie-free, sugar-free drink, so join this growing health movement and start today exploring the novelty of tea.
Just like wine or coffee, there are countless types, blends, styles, countries of origins and more, all for you to try. I'm sure there is a tea to suit any taste and preference.
So, go. Discover. And enjoy a cup of tea.