Teas that are worth drinking…starting with my favourite Green Tea!
If you know me, you’ll know I always have my own tea bags with me. An odd quirk since I was a teenager but it’s served me well because I always have my own choice in beverage lol
My tea of choice is green tea, mint green tea to be exact and has been for nearly 2 decades since I discovered it. I drink 2 cups a day, first one around 12:00 pm and the second around 3:30 pm. It’s as much a habit now as anything but one that I am fond of.
The why’s were simple to start, as a 20 something I had heard it would help me lose weight so why not! I tried a cup and the bitterness was not exactly appealing but the growling stomach that came about an hour later was interesting. The hunger induced by green tea is still being researched as it does not occur in each person, though it may have to do with insulin sensitivity or the production of stomach acid in relation to food expectancy.
Known benefits of Green Tea:
- It contains polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds in plants that have been shown to reduce inflammation & help fight certain types of cancer such as breast, prostate, & colorectal, though more research in this area is needed.
- It contains catechins, a natural antioxidants that can help to fight cell damaging free radicals & in return potentially reduce the risk of certain diseases. The most powerful catechin is called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) & is the primary one in green tea, lending too many of its medicinal properties.
- It may improve brain function due to the caffeine content & addition bonus of L-theanine. Caffeine affects the brain by blocking an inhibitory neurotransmitter called adenosine & in doing so increases the firing potential for neurotransmitters like dopamine & norepinephrine. Just one of the reasons caffeine continues to be studied for its various effects on brain function such as mood, reaction time & memory. L-theanine is an amino acid that can cross the blood brain barrier & increase the activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter known as GABA. It also assists with the increase of dopamine & serotonin, the production of alpha waves, & appears to lower the effects of anxiety in cases.
- Green tea has less caffeine than coffee so may be a good alternative for people sensitive to caffeine. Likewise the synergistic effects of L-theanine & caffeine may prove beneficial to the brain while providing a more stable energy than regular caffeine alone.
- Green tea may boost metabolic rates & fat burning in the short term due primarily to the caffeine. The catechins along with EGCG in green tea have been shown to increase fat burning in control trials. When combined with proper diet & exercise could even help to increase fat loss, especially around the midsection. Research is ongoing as there are many variances in this area.
- It may protect our brains from aging & neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s due to the bioactive compounds. Tea polyphenols can lower the morbidity of these diseases by reducing oxidative stress and regulating signalling pathways.
- The catechins in green tea may not only help your brain & waistline but they can also suppress the growth of bacteria. This means lowering the risk of infections from the likes of streptococcus mutans, a common bacterium in the mouth. This could lead to improvement in breath.
- Green tea may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes due to its ability to improve insulin sensitivity. Controlled studies have shown up to a 42% lower risk in those drinking green tea, while reviews of multiple studies averaged an 18% lower risk.
- Green tea may help to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing the antioxidant capacity of the blood. This in turn can potentially lower LDL (bad cholesterol) & protect particles from oxidation which is one element leading towards heart disease.
If that’s not enough for you, some varieties can taste really nice. Loose green tea has a variety of flavours that will turn anyone into a fan, even if only 1 cup a day!
Other teas worth trying for added health benefits are:
- Chamomile, mostly known as a sleep aid tea due to its calming effects.
- Peppermint is most commonly used to sooth the digestive track & can help to calm stomachs suffering with nausea or indigestion. Even better still is it has antiviral, antibacterial & antioxidant properties.
- Ginger is a wonder tea unto itself & most noted for its effectiveness is treating nausea in cases from pregnancy to motion sickness. It can also help fight inflammation & stimulate the immune system in part due to its beneficial antioxidants.
- Hibiscus tea has antiviral properties, & test-tube studies have shown its extract to be highly effective against strains of the bird flu. However, there is currently no evidence to show that drinking hibiscus tea could help you fight off viruses like the flu. It is lovely tasting though if you are in the mood for something new.
- Echinacea tea is an extremely popular remedy in many forms as it is believed to prevent &/or shorten the common cold. Evidence has shown that Echinacea may help boost the immune system, which could help the body fight off viruses or infections. While studies have found that Echinacea can shorten the duration of the common cold, lessen the severity of symptoms or potentially prevent it, studies are conflicting. Fear not though as at the very least it can soothe a sore through or help to clear up a stuffy nose if you do feel a cold coming on.
- Rooibos is an herbal tea from South Africa, made from the leaves of the rooibos or red bush plant. While many claims are made there is not a lot of evidence to support them. One study has shown that rooibos tea may benefit bone health though. The study suggests that rooibos tea, along with green & black tea, may stimulate the cells involved in bone growth & density. An additional benefit of the same study, found that the teas also lowered inflammatory markers & cell toxicity. The researchers suggested that this might be why drinking tea is associated with higher bone density.
- Lemon balm tea has a lovely, light lemony flavour & seems to have beneficial health properties. A small study where participants drank lemon balm tea for six weeks showed improved elasticity of the arteries. Arterial stiffness is considered a risk factor for heart disease, stroke and mental decline so if a cup of tea daily can help why not!
Now if those aren’t enough reasons to add a cup of tea to your life, remember that health doesn’t have to be hard & a cup of tea a day could be the one small change you make that has a big impact on bringing you closer to your happiest & healthiest self.