Following water, tea is second in line as the most-consumed beverage on the planet.
Not beer. Not soda. Not even coffee.
Humanity has been drinking it for thousands of years. And based on the ever-growing evidence of its health benefits, there’s no reason to think we should let up anytime soon.
As Chinese legend has it, the Emperor Shennong discovered tea some 4,700 years ago when a strong wind tossed falling tea leaves into his bowl of boiling water. The emperor noticed the leaves change the water’s color and aroma. When he drank it, it soothed him.
It’s been doing that to legions of folks, princes and paupers, for eons.
The main benefits of tea are its antioxidant properties from flavonoids and catechins, but it also has other characteristics that can reduce inflammation and help with regulation of blood sugar and other systems.
Two cups of freshly brewed tea each day may protect against the development of chronic disease, while larger quantities—say, four cups a day—may lower glucose and lipid markers.
So sip away and enjoy the benefits.
Here’s what the research says:
The most compelling evidence is related to heart disease. As it relates to green tea and heart health, there’s an association between lower levels of cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides and higher levels of HDL—the “good” cholesterol. There’s also evidence of significant lowering of systolic and diastolic blood pressure associated with tea-drinking. Black tea in particular could contribute to a decreased incidence of heart attack.
Research has shown that green tea contains the ideal combination of caffeine and catechins, which work in tandem to stimulate thermogenesis. Green tea has been known to provide numerous health benefits, including the prevention of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Regular consumption of green tea and black tea has been shown to decrease fasting blood glucose, insulin levels and hemoglobin A1C. This can lead to an increase in antioxidants and a reduction in inflammatory cytokines that cause insulin resistance. It may also cut down on fat accumulation from carbs.
Research has shown tea’s antioxidant properties cause an anti-rheumatic effect that may improve the physical abilities of aging populations. This includes improvements in muscle strength, balance and performance of daily activities.
While many Americans may not be looking at tea for its health benefits, perhaps they should. There’s even been some evidence of tea’s possible role in combatting depression.
Angela Fobar has worked as a registered dietitian at Spectrum Health Zeeland Community Hospital for the past nine years, specializing in clinical work, outpatient counseling, community classes and outreach.