Drinking tea provides numerous benefits


Ellen Gustavson/Staff Writer

Paper or plastic? Elevator or stairs? Coffee or tea?

It seems tea is less common here than, say, England, but it’s still a popular drink and has more benefits than you might think. The history of tea brewing dates back to as far as 500,000 years ago in India and China. In fact, the popular phrase “chai” literally means “tea” in India.

Lately green tea has been advertised for its antioxidants (What are those anyway?), but some studies show that tea can do everything from preventing cancer to increasing short term memory. It might even be a better way to start your day than the traditional cup of morning Joe.

While coffee has more caffeine than tea, that might not be a good thing. Too much caffeine is hard on your heart and other organs, and withdrawal may cause headaches and crankiness. Tea, on the other hand, has enough caffeine to raise your metabolism while not giving you the jitters.

And then there’s the aforementioned antioxidants, also known as polyphenals. They basically protect the body from free radicals, which cause cell damage and potentially cancer. The antioxidants can also help reduce acne. One cup of tea can contain 50 to 150 mg of antioxidants, which one estimate showed to be 10 times the amount in fruits and vegetables. There are many types of tea, including green, black, white and red. The difference between all the varieties is just how mature the leaves were when they were picked, and some kinds have more antioxidants than others.
Tea also is good for your teeth, something coffee stains definitely can’t say. Tea contains fluoride and tannins that reduce plaque. (Unfortunately, adding sugar cancels this out, so opt for adding lemon, ginger or cinnamon for extra flavor.) The polyphenols in tea can also help bad breath. In addition, tea has been proven to prevent the risk of arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol, food poisoning, and Parkinson’s disease.

Worried about getting sick this winter? Start drinking some tea. Studies show it revs up the immune system. This can help fight off the flu and
infections, and it can clear up nasal congestion. In addition, drinking a hot liquid like tea eases a sore throat.

Then there are the benefits tea can have on your waistline. It raises your metabolism and, when unsweetened, is calorie-free. In addition, drinking a hot liquid like tea before a meal reduces your appetite.

Tea is not only good for the body, but the mind, too. Drinking tea reduces stress levels and insomnia, and it increases your short term memory due the amino acid L-theanine, which creates a calmer yet more alert state of mind.

So next time you head to Starbucks or Cup o’ Joe, try something new. Sit down and have a nice cup of tea.

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