Drinking tea is good for you. That’s a fact, right? Flip open a health magazine and you’re guaranteed to find at least one article touting the health benefits of regular tea consumption. But what exactly is it that makes tea so healthy? What kind of tea gives you the most benefits, and how much do you need to drink to get them? Unfortunately, common as these notions are, much of the time they are based on claims that are vague at best and sometimes outright misinformed.
But the good news is, the scientific findings that we do have on the health benefits of tea are extremely promising. Tea is rich in polyphenols, a class of micronutrient with a host of antioxidant, tannic, and other beneficial properties.1 Research has found that many of these polyphenols, particularly flavonoid catechins, show anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and antioxidant effects.2 Flavonoids are also useful as an immune system booster, strengthening infection-fighting cells.1 Epidemiological studies in Saitama, Japan, suggest that regular consumption of flavonoid-rich teas can act as a cancer preventative and possibly help inhibit cancer recurrence after treatment.3
Additionally, other studies have shown that regular tea consumption can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and repress angiotensin, a hormone that can cause high blood pressure.2 Tea is also naturally enriched by small amounts of fluoride, which can improve both bone strength and density and protect against cartilage wear.2 The list goes on and on – quite simply, the more we study it, the more we find reason to make tea-drinking a habit.
Of course, with all the powerful benefits that tea has to offer, it stands to reason that frequent consumption of it can cause other health changes as well. Tea can occasionally interact with certain medications or preexisting conditions, so consult with your doctor before beginning an increased tea regimen.2 As always, it is important to carefully research significant changes in diet and ascertain that the health benefits are appropriate for your own situation.
But what sort of tea should we drink to get these benefits? Since all tea comes from Camellia sinensis, every type of tea is going to offer at least some health advantages. Multiple studies, however, have found that green tea possesses the highest concentration of flavonoids and other positive polyphenols.1 And of all the green teas, Japanese matcha is most nutritious of all, as the drinker is consuming the powdered form of the tea leaf itself, rather than just its infusion.
Scientists also recommend that green tea is most beneficial when brewed fresh, and recommend at least 3-4 cups a day to intake enough polyphenols to impact health.2 So if you’re looking to incorporate a new healthy habit into your lifestyle this year, why not add a few cups of green tea into your routine? It’s an easy – and delicious – way to do something good for yourself.
- Sinija, H., & Mishra, H. (2009). Green Tea: Health Benefits. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, 232-242.
- Chatterjee, A., Saluja, M., Agarwal, G., & Alam, M. (2012). Green Tea: A boon for periodontal and general health. Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, 161-167.
- Fujiki, H. (2005). Green tea: Health benefits as cancer preventive for humans. The Chemical Record, 119-132.
By: Jen Coate