Before coffee, before soda, before those so called “energy drinks,” people around the world would sit down and enjoy a piping hot cup of tea. And yet, perhaps even more amazing than the early origins of tea is the fact that it still enjoys popularity to this very day.
However, there’s a reason that tea has withstood the test of time. In addition to its comforting taste, tea boasts a number of health benefits.
In general, tea is believed to boost mental awareness and the immune system. The l-theanine amino acid found in tea has been found to increase alpha brain-wave activity, which results in a less anxious yet more alert mind. Thealine has also been linked to help t-cells in fighting off various diseases. Not too shabby for some herbs steeped in hot water.
Yet, when seeking out the most beneficial cup to sip on, not all teas are created equal. Far and away, if you are going to drink tea, you should reach for a cup of the green stuff.
Green tea contains an antioxidant called catechins, which help find free radicals that could damage DNA and lead to cancer and blood clots. One of the catechins contained in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), is believed to slow down and even prevent the growth of cancer cells. And the combination of the caffeine and the EGCG in green tea also has been linked to lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and obesity rates in regular drinkers (meaning approximately 2-3 cups daily).
Additionally, the antioxidants in green tea are found to be “dilators,” meaning that they make blood vessels more flexible and subsequently help prevent clogging in the heart. These antioxidants also help prevent inflammation in the bowels, leading to easier digestion and lessening the likelihood of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
But the benefits aren’t just in a physical sense. In a recent Japanese study, green tea consumption was found to function much like an antidepressant. In other words, green tea drinkers are often less anxious and healthier.
And, as if all these benefits weren’t enough, green tea can enhance your athletic performance. It has been linked to improving endurance. And, if you’re looking to reduce your midsection, green tea, in conjunction with regular exercise, is believed to help burn more fat during the workout and increase muscle mass, resulting in a longer post-workout fat burn and a heightened metabolic rate.
So next time you walk past Teavana, go ahead and wander in. Or spend a few minutes in the tea aisle in Whole Foods. Sipping a cup of tea is a great way to unwind after a busy day and the health benefits last long after you’ve finished your last cup.