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Tea Time, Me Time: Pour a Cup to Your Good Health

By Martha Michael

Tea Time

When the temperature heats up, your favorite drink choices may be cooling down. If you’re in a season when an ice cold glass of tea sounds better than a hot, steamy mug of coffee, you may also be boosting your health, depending on which tea leaves you choose.

Drink to Your Health

Cold teas offer the same health benefits as hot tea as long as they’re brewed just like their high temperature counterparts. Generally speaking, there is a relationship between tea consumption and a lower risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, says an article by Harvard Health. The main reason is that black and green tea contain polyphenols, specifically catechins and epicatechins, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory molecules.

Antioxidants contribute to your health by counteracting the damage done by high levels of oxidants. Your body’s cells create oxidants that attack the walls of your arteries and raise your risk of cardiovascular disease; antioxidants neutralize those harmful chemicals.

Two studies by the Harvard School of Public Health offer circumstantial evidence confirming the benefits of tea consumption. Following a group of male health professionals in one study and female nurses in another, experts concluded that tea drinkers have a lower risk of developing diabetes. It is likely the result of polyphenols that assist in glucose metabolism. And there’s a domino effect -- it also explains lower levels of cardiovascular problems, as diabetes raises your risk of heart disease and stroke.

Health Benefits of Herbal Teas

Various types of tea contain ingredients with unique benefits, according to an article by Healthline. While “true teas” are brewed from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, herbal teas are beverages with health properties that vary according to the flowers, fruits, spices, and herbs in them.

Ginger tea - The spicy appeal of ginger offers more than flavor. One of its most notable features is its ability to reduce nausea. Women who are early in their pregnancy or individuals undergoing cancer treatment often turn to ginger for relief. You can also pour a cup of ginger tea to prevent motion sickness. Food and drinks containing ginger can soothe indigestion while also reducing inflammation and providing antioxidants to your system.

Hibiscus tea - The colorful appearance of hibiscus flowers makes this tea a pleasing sight while also offering health benefits. It is an antiviral beverage which specifically fights strains of the bird flu. Research shows a link between drinking hibiscus tea and a reduction in blood pressure. Also, a study of male soccer players showed the power of hibiscus extract to offset oxidative stress.

Chamomile tea - Many tea drinkers turn to chamomile for increased calm and as an agent of sleep. By consuming chamomile extract twice a day, insomnia patients experience mild improvement in both falling asleep faster and less intermittent waking during the night. A study involving postpartum mothers found their sleep quality improved and they suffered from fewer symptoms of depression if they drank chamomile tea.

Rooibos tea - The leaves of the South African rooibos, or red bush plant, are known to have medicinal properties, including a study showing rooibos tea is effective in promoting bone health. Like green and black teas, rooibos beverages may stimulate the cells necessary for bone growth and density. Results from another study draw a parallel between rooibos and a blood pressure medication designed to minimize the constriction of blood vessels, thus lowering the chance of developing heart disease.

Rose hip tea - Because of its high Vitamin C content and fats found in the plant compounds, rose hip tea works as an anti-inflammatory product. Rose hip powder has been used to reduce inflammation causing osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. A 12-week study of rose hips found it helps in weight loss efforts by decreasing the BMI and belly fat of participants.

Coffee Versus Tea

An article in online magazine The Manual compares the health benefits of coffee consumption with those of tea drinking. Both beverages contain caffeine, providing the jolt many Americans seek first thing in the morning, but at different speeds due to a difference in their levels. An 8-ounce cup of coffee has 95 mg of caffeine while an 8-ounce cup of black tea has just 47 mg and green tea has 28 mg.

In addition to the increase in your energy level, coffee also offers a boost to the amount of B vitamins in your body. A combination of riboflavin, folate, niacin and pantothenic acid, Vitamin B contributes to the health of your nervous system. Coffee drinkers also get nervous system regulating minerals in their cup -- magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, choline and manganese.

Coffee is made from the seeds of trees found in tropical areas of the world and tea is a beverage made from the leaves of plants, but the polyphenols found in tea are also present in coffee, which means you gain their antioxidant effects with either choice. The vitamins and minerals found in black and green teas vary, but each contain similar levels of polyphenols, depending on the time the tea is harvested and the amount of oxidation when the leaves are processed.

Far more important than whether or not you drink tea is your adherence to an overall healthy lifestyle. You don’t have to read tea leaves to make up your mind about your beverage of choice. Moderate levels of the popular beverage will likely contribute positively to your wellness, especially when aligned with moderate diet and exercise.

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