Growing up, I always thought that the 10 different kinds of tea that my dad kept in the cabinet were a bit much. Why would you need anything other than good, old fashioned sweet tea? Well, it turns out that those other teas have some serious health benefits.
Tea can help fight cancer, prevent heart disease or diabetes, encourage weight loss, lower cholesterol, and bring about mental alertness. Green, Black, White and Oolong teas are what purists would call the only “real” teas. These are all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. This plant contains some unique antioxidants called flavonoids, which give tea the great health benefits it’s known for. Because Oolong and Black teas are oxidized and fermented, they have a lower concentration of flavonoids. So, if you want the full effect, go for the green or white teas.
Green tea has the highest concentration of flavonoids and so its effects on the body are the most prominent. Green tea has been studied for its ability to interfere in the growth of lung, stomach, bladder, breast, pancreatic, and colorectal cancers. It has also been shown to prevent clogging of the arteries, aid in weight loss, prevent bone loss, reduce the risk of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, reduce the risk of stroke, and improve cholesterol levels.
While studying green tea’s effect on the body scientists saw a 20% reduction in the risk of heart attack and a 35% reduced risk of stroke in those who drank three cups of green tea a day.
Black tea has the highest caffeine content and is the base for many flavored teas, such as chai tea. This naturally sweet tea has been studied in its ability to protect lungs from damage caused by exposure to cigarette smoke and reduce the risk of stroke.
White tea, when uncured and unfermented, has the highest concentration of anti-cancer properties. It also helps with cold symptoms and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure.
Oolong tea helps to lower bad cholesterol levels. It can also help with skin conditions or keep blood sugar levels in line. Some varieties of Oolong tea are said to aid in weight loss management, but those are thus far scientifically unproven.
What about those other types of tea you read about? What about chamomile or ginger tea? Those are all herbal teas. Herbal teas, or tisane, are made from herbs, fruits, seeds or roots. These teas are not made from the Camellia sinensis plant and so they aren’t “actually” tea. In fact, some researchers trace the roots of the word Tisane back to the French to mean “tea without” or tea without tea.
Herbal teas have been used as long as written history recounts. From Ancient Egypt and China to monks working in monasteries, we can find mention of Herbal teas and their effects throughout history.
Herbal teas are known for their positive medical properties. These are the teas you hear of when you’re looking for a cure for insomnia or irritable bowel. While the effects of herbal teas on common health ailments are unproven, here’s a list of some well-known herbal teas and their effects on common health complaints.
- Chamomile –Contains antioxidants. It may help prevent complications from diabetes, stunt growth of cancer cells, and help ease insomnia and irritable bowel.
- Lemon Balm – is a great tea for reducing anxiety. It helps alleviate symptoms of the common cold and other respiratory issues, has been said to relieve indigestion, bloating, and gas. It also helps with headaches and cramps.
- Peppermint – this wakes you up and helps with hot flashes, bloating and indigestion. It also acts as a decongestant and can help suppress the appetite.
- Rosemary – Can ward off headaches, especially those that are stress induced.
- Sage – is a good choice for when you need a bit of a lift in your mood. This has also been shown to help with reducing night sweats and ease PMS and menopause.
- Ginger – This is the number one tea for nausea. It also acts as an anti-inflammatory.
- Cinnamon – regulates glucose metabolism, helps with digestion and prevents clogging of the arteries.
While tea’s effects on the body are still very much a subject of scientific research, it can’t hurt to check out which kinds you favor. This fantastic alternative to sugary sodas allows you to get your caffeine fix without the nasty repercussions of soda, such as weight gain and tooth decay. Researchers have found that tea changes the pH balance in your mouth and so it helps to prevent cavities. No matter what your healthy living goals, tea can help you achieve a happier and healthier life.