Across the world, cultural venues, retail shops, and restaurants are serving premium teas of different varieties; while most convenience stores, supermarkets, and vending machines are stocking up on bottled tea. For Americans, an estimated 158 million drink tea according to the Tea Association of the U.S.A. Inc. It is predicted that purchases will continue to increase.
The origin of tea came from a folk legend dated back to 2737 B.C. It was discovered when a falling leaf from a wild tea tree accidentally landed into a Chinese Emperor’s pot of boiling water.
Like coffee, a vast number of researches and studies have observed the connection between drinking tea and health benefits. While most studies did not involve participants that were selected randomly, others studies involve meta-analyses (studies of other studies) or systematic reviews.
Nevertheless, tea has been well-known by different cultures for its soothing ability to refresh the body and mind. Far from being a false promise, tea has been highly praised for an array of capable health benefits — from heart disease, reducing cancer risk, to boosting weight loss, and improving dental health.
Tea and Heart Health
Eleven trials that included 821 patients observed the connection of black and green tea with heart health. Consuming both teas was linked with lower total cholesterol readings, (LDL and triglycerides) and higher HDL levels (good cholesterol).
One meta-analysis involved 22 potential studies that included more than 850,000 participants. They discovered that drinking an extra three cups of tea daily was attributed with decreased reduction in cardiac deaths (26 percent), coronary artery disease (27 percent), total mortality rate (24 percent), stroke (18 percent), hemorrhagic stroke (21 percent), and cerebral infarction.
Tea and Cancer
Studies interlinking tea's effectiveness for decreasing cancer risk has been less credible. Polyphenol compounds (catechins in particular) in tea may play a role in reducing the possibility of certain types of cancers. However, studies related to green and black tea for preventing cancer overall have been conflicting or limited.
A systematic review from 2015 concluded that black tea was not associated with reduced endometrial cancer. However, increased consumption of green tea by drinking one cup a day could decrease the relative risk as much as 11 percent. Another 2011 meta-analysis discovered that green tea was linked with lower rates of prostate cancer. Black tea did not have the same effect.
Tea for Gum Health
A 2018 analysis published in the International Association for Dental Research, USA reported that using green tea and green tea-based mouthwashes was linked with decreased odds for periodontal disease. Other studies reported that tea lowers the pH of the tooth surface. This help suppresses the growth of bacteria that contributes to gum disease. A reason for tea's anticariogenic properties is its fluoride content. The tea plant accumulates fluoride naturally from the soil. Then it is brewed with fluoridated water.
Tea and Weight Loss
Evidence supporting green tea as a weight-loss method is based mainly on studies that used tea extracts (polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate, caffeine). These results are based on consuming tea paired with exercise and a sensible diet.
Tea and Caffeine
Caffeine that is contained in tea can vary; depending on the way in which it is brewed. Typical levels found in certain teas are less than what is found in coffee; ranging from 20 to 90 mgs per 8 fluid ounces, versus 50 to 120 mgs in coffee.
Tea and Diabetes
Controlled trials reported that green tea causes a mild decrease in blood sugar levels. A 2014 meta-analysis of 15 published studies found, as with coffee, a connection between drinking tea and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. For participants who consumed an additional two cups of tea daily, the risk of developing diabetes dropped 4.6 percent.
Black and green tea are great options for a non-sweetened beverage that is simple to make and can easily be found at most stores or online. Consider switching to tea to reap its numerous health benefits.
Val lives in New York state. As a health advocate, she shares tips and steps on maximizing nutrition, weight, and fitness goals to help others embrace a healthier lifestyle. She blogs at Halfmile Fitness.