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We often envision therapeutic teas being brewed from herbs known for their healing qualities. But real tea, be it black, green, white, or somewhere in between (known as oolong), offers its own health perks. Here are 10 ways to benefit from this age-old beverage.
1. Drink Up
Experts from leading American universities, including Harvard and Johns Hopkins, ranked tea second only to water as a healthful drink. The group’s recommendations, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, included drinking up to 40 ounces daily, avoiding extra calories from sweeteners and creamers, and limiting daily caffeine intake to 400 mg, or 300 mg for pregnant women.
2. Choose More or Less Caffeine
Although many decaffeinated versions are available, caffeine content varies naturally among different types of teas. Black contains about 50 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, about half that of coffee; green contains about 25 mg of caffeine per cup; oolong ranges somewhere in between the two, and white comes in lowest, with 15–20 mg per cup.
3. Pick Your Color
All tea, except for red tea (e.g., rooibos), comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but fermentation influences color. Black is fully fermented; oolong, which is lighter in color, is only slightly fermented; and white and green varieties are not fermented at all. White tea is made from buds and young leaves, while mature leaves produce green tea. The exact nutrient composition of each type varies, as does taste, but they all convey handsome benefits.
4. Love Your Heart
Numerous studies support the venerable brew’s role in preventing heart disease by keeping blood vessels functioning well and aiding in the control of cholesterol and triglycerides. A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that drinking one to two cups of black tea daily lowered risk for atherosclerosis by 46 percent, and more than four cups daily lowered risk by 69 percent. Another study, published in the journal Circulation, found that tea drinkers were more likely to survive a heart attack.
5. Reduce Cancer Risk
Researchers have investigated black and green teas’ effects on cancer and found some significant preventive benefits, including reduced risks of developing:
- Rectal Cancer: 60 percent
- Colon Cancer: 42 percent
- Digestive Cancer: 32 percent
- Urinary Tract Cancer: 60 percent
- Pancreatic Cancer: 37 percent (men)/47 percent (women)
- Skin Cancer: 42 percent
6. Improve Immunity
L-theanine, a substance found in tea, strengthens the immune system and helps the human body ward off infection from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that people who drank five cups of black tea daily quadrupled levels of interferon, a natural defense system, in two to four weeks. Coffee did not affect interferon levels. And a 2020 study showed that the ancient brew “can enhance innate immune response in order to mitigate the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”
7. Smile Bright
Flavonoids in tea may help prevent oral plaque and strengthen tooth enamel. In one study, hamsters fed black tea extract developed 63 percent fewer cavities than those not given the extract. Green and black varieties also contain naturally occurring fluoride.
8. Slim Down
Green tea extract is a popular weight-loss supplement thanks to components, such as catechins and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that have been demonstrated in cell culture and animal models of obesity to reduce weight. Green tea also decreases the growth and proliferation of fat cells called adipocytes and increases the breakdown of triglycerides, the storage form of fat, to make energy.
9. Avoid Kidney Stones
A 2019 study published in the journal Urology found that regular tea drinkers had a significantly lower risk of kidney stones than people who don’t imbibe. The protective effect was more pronounced in men than in women.
10. Keep Bones in Shape
Caffeine has been implicated in bone loss, but tea seems to have a protective effect against osteoporosis. A review of previous research published in the open-access journal Medicine found that regular tea consumption reduces risk for osteoporosis. And more recent research found that postmenopausal women who drink a daily cuppa have higher bone mineral density than those who don’t.
Here are other delicious ways to add tea to your diet.