Message from the RDs: Celebrate Hot Tea Month With 5 Benefits of Tea! By Alicia Huggler

According to legend, back in 2737 BC, the Chinese emperor Shen Nung was sitting beneath a tree while his servant boiled drinking water, when some leaves (from a camellia sinensis tree) blew into the water, and that is how tea was supposedly created.

All non-herbal teas are made from the leaves of the camellia sinensis plant, but the amount of time the leaves are processed determines whether you end up with a green, black or oolong tea. Today, there are also herbal tea variations that you can enjoy.

Not only are teas great tasting, but they pack various health benefits. Listed below are some of the potential benefits of drinking tea.

Heart Health

Studies have been conducted and have found black tea intake was associated with a decrease risk of heart attacks, and for green tea drinkers, studies report people have lower total cholesterol, LDL “bad” cholesterol and triglycerides, and higher HDL “good” cholesterol levels.

Antioxidant Power

Antioxidants are found in plant-based foods such as fruit/vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and dark chocolate. Antioxidants help prevent or stop cell damage from oxidants. Oxidants are free radicals that you find in the environment from air pollution, cigarette smoke, and alcohol. Too many oxidants may cause medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer. So drink up!

Soothes Digestive System

Herbal teas such as chamomile may help calm you, and help ease symptoms of  irritable bowel syndrome, and ginger teas may help decrease nausea. Peppermint tea may help ease your stomach as well.

Calorie/Sugar Free

Teas are a great beverage if you are looking for flavor without any sugar/calories. It is versatile as you can drink it hot or cold and there are thousands of flavors to choose from. Just try to watch how much sugar and/or honey you add to your tea because that sugar can add up. Also, be sure when you buy bottled tea you choose one that is unsweetened.

***Dietitian Tip: I brew tea, such as cinnamon apple flavored tea, and use the water when cooking oatmeal. This gives my oats great cinnamon apple flavor without adding a ton of sugar to my breakfast!

Caffeine Booster

If you need a caffeine boost teas range from 20-90 milligrams per 1 cup compared to coffee that contains 50-120 milligrams of caffeine. Avoid drinking too much caffeinated tea as too much can cause anxiety and restlessness.

Dietitian’s Favorite Picks:

To cure my sweet tooth I like to drink Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride tea. It doesn’t have any sweetener just has a blend of herbs that taste like a sugar cookie! My other favorites are decaf Sweet Coconut Thai Chai tea by Celestial Seasonings, and Ito en Matcha Green tea when I need a little caffeine boost.