Tea: it`s enjoyed by the pint all over the world, sipped by dainty ladies surrounded by cakes in Britain, luxuriantly regaled in Japanese tea ceremonies and sweetened in a herald of flavorful concoctions in America. Tea had an inauspicious beginning, when tea leaves from a nearby plant fluttered into a Chinese emperor`s pot of hot water in 2737 B.C. The monarch gingerly sipped the liquid, and a legend was born.
While the benefits and dangers of rival beverage coffee bop up and down with the latest fashion or fad, tea is known for promoting overall well being. Claims range from the mundane to the supernatural: tea lowers the risk of certain cancers and heart diseases, improves mental acuity, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, inhibits certain bacteria, improves digestion and helps with weight loss. Here are four health benefits of drinking tea.
Tea Fights Cancer
Does tea really do all it claims to do? Can tea truly fight cancer? Tea — especially green tea — contains polyphenols, a group of antioxidants that slurp up bad cells circulating throughout our bodies. These mutant cells, called free radicals, oxidize our healthy cells which stimulates the body`s aging process and possibly causes certain types of cancers. According to Science Daily, the free radical-killing, antioxidant benefits of green tea "may be ranked among the most potent `health foods` we know."
But tea is not the cancer cure-all. If you smoke heavily, never exercise, consume processed foods and live a stressful life, no amount of green tea is going to save you. Tea is merely one important component in a healthy lifestyle.
Tea Hydrates the Body
For decades, tea has gotten a bad rap on hydration. Nutritionists believed that tea acts as a diuretic, flushing out excess water waste from the body and dehydrating. New research is challenging this belief. Studies conducted by the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition show that tea rehydrates the body almost as well as plain water.
Dr. Joseph Mercola, a leading alternative physician and author, states that tea may also protect the heart from certain diseases. Next to plain water, tea is more beneficial than any other beverage, especially those large quantities of soft drinks and other sweetened beverages that most American consumers drink.
Teas diluted with strong sweeteners and pasteurized milk, however, have reduced beneficial properties. Additionally, do be cautious as some black teas contain fluoride derived from certain soils. Some scientists hail the benefits of fluoride against tooth decay, but Dr. Mercola warns that high levels of fluoride are toxic to the body, damaging the thyroid, bones and kidneys.
Water is still the best hydrating drink but tea — unsweetened, organic, without chemicals or added processed foods — comes in as a close second.
Tea Reduces Stress
A hot cup of tea does wonders for the body after a hectic day at work or a frantic fight through rush-hour traffic. Every tea manufacturer knows that sales spike when they advertise a tea drinker wrapped in cuddly blankets, sipping tea before a crackling fire. But does tea truly relax the body or is it all a marketing scheme?
The act of making tea has shown to reduce stress. Studies by psychologist Dr. Malcom Cross at the City University London show that stressed-out volunteers reduced their angst by making and sipping hot tea. Nearly half of all tea drinkers say they drink tea because it relaxes them. Golden Moon loose tea, known for its flavor and nine step selection process, carries oolong tea — a type of tea that when mice ingested, according to a Japanese study, lowered stress levels by as much as 18 percent.
Wait, There`s More!
Other benefits abound. Tea has been shown to reduce the risk of memory loss and dementia. Herbal tea improves digestion and reduces inflammation. Oolong tea is loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that cleanse the body of toxins. The polyphenols in tea have shown to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as lower blood pressure and the risk of glaucoma. Dr. Mercola recommends green tea for its immense antioxidant properties and Tulsi tea, a unique Indian herbal tea.
Finally, tea just makes you look and feel smart. Tea making has its own ceremony in dozens of nations, bedecked in florid teapots and sipped by brainy librarians and gurus. For thousands of years, drinking tea is cool. And feeling great is part of being healthy, too.