Tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world, aside from water, and for most of the world, tea is the beverage of choice – except in America. If you’re an American and not drinking water, what are you drinking? Are you drinking tea every day? You should be and here’s why.
All beverage choices matter. Up to twenty percent of our daily diet may consist of the beverages we drink. Beverages play a very important role in nutrition and health.
So Why Should You Drink Tea Every Day?
First, because it’s so delicious and there are so many variants to choose from the Camellia sinensis plant – green, black, oolong, white or pu erh. Second, you should drink tea because of its benefits to health and prevention of disease.
Tea is a calorie-free beverage rich in antioxidants, flavonoids and other biologically active substances that are beneficial to health. Up to three or four cups of tea per day are optimum.
Tea and Human Health
Back in September 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington DC held the Fifth International Scientific Symposium on Tea and Human Health. The symposium consisted of eleven presentations from world-renowned scientists who studied the effects of tea on human health.
The symposiums occur every five years. I expect the Sixth International Symposium on Tea and Human Health is upcoming.
The research suggests that tea provides health benefits to virtually every organ and system in the human body, from the heart, brain, and bones to the total body with advantages that may even promote a healthy weight.
Not only is tea one of the most ancient beverages, it’s also one of the most researched.
Over the past several decades, thousands of peer-reviewed studies have been published that have identified thousands of bioactive compounds in the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant that are used to make green, black, oolong tea, white and pu erh.
Studies reveal the specific ways tea compounds elicit health benefits and show how these diverse elements in tea work synergistically to promote health when consumed as a plant-based beverage.
The benefits of tea are often attributed to the phenolic compounds, some of which act as antioxidants. By definition, an antioxidant inhibits the oxidation of molecules. Oxidation is a chemical reaction that can produce free radicals. Simply stated, free radicals can cause cell damage.
The major catechins in tea, namely epicatechins (EGCg) in green tea and the theaflavins and thearubinigins in black tea create many bioactive molecules providing health benefits at the cellular level.
Taking a tea supplement instead of actually drinking tea does not provide the same benefit.
Hundreds of thousands of bioactive elements are found within tea’s leaves and together, they work synergistically to impact virtually every cell in the human body—from the heart, bones, brain, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.
Research suggests tea can help reduce the risk of the most common chronic diseases associated with aging including heart disease, cancer, obesity, neurological decline, cognition, and osteoporosis.
Findings presented at the Fifth International Tea & Human Health Symposium:
U.S. Tea consumption:
- 160 million Americans are drinking tea on any given day.
- 85% of tea consumed in America is iced.
- 80% of households in the US have tea in their kitchen.
- In 2011, Americans consumed over 65 billion servings of tea.
- Prepared at home, tea cost about three cents per serving.
What are the benefits of drinking all this tea?
Every day, new medical evidence from the international community lends credibility to tea’s healthy properties. Not only does tea taste delicious and is easy to make, it’s also good for smaller waistlines, sharper minds, stronger bones and healthier hearts.
Another amazing study was just published this week. A 7th-grader’s science project found cancer-fighting chemicals in green tea. The experiment proved the antioxidant EGCg may actually help fight cancer growth.
In another recent study published in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, scientists from Brown University in Providence, RI, and the University of California in Los Angeles discovered that the risk of glaucoma was lower in people who drank hot tea every day.
The study reports the reason for this is that “tea contains phytochemicals and flavonoids [types of active chemical compounds found in plants], which have been observed to have anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties associated with the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
Scientific research that supports the role of tea in improving health:
- Only one cup of black tea per day may improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and reduce the incidence of stroke, heart attack, and other cardiovascular diseases by 10%.
- Drinking tea may help mitigate the negative effects of high-fat meals on blood vessel function.
- Drinking several cups of green tea daily may help burn 100 calories a day.
- Drinking green tea along with weight-bearing exercises like Tai Chi or Yoga are an effective way to improve muscle strength, reduce inflammation and improve bone mass, which may help to reduce the risk of osteoporosis and fractures especially among older Americans.
- Tea has anticancer properties: Men who drank more than 1.5 cups of green tea per day had a 70% lower colon cancer risk.
- Just one cup of tea may boost one’s ability to solve difficult language/mathematical problems.
- Drinking two cups of black tea per day have been shown to enhance work performance, reduce tiredness and improve clarity and energy.
- Black tea also helps to improve cognitive functioning, in particular, attention.
Tea Research by Numbers:
Results of PubMed online research published within the past five years:
- 5,649 studies on tea
- 2,878 tea and health studies
- 1,000 + studies on tea and cancer
- 800 + tea and human health studies
- 300 + black or green tea and weight
- 100 + studies on tea and heart health
- 36 studies on tea and bone health
- 4 studies on tea and microbiome
- Drink tea every day. It has a positive impact on the human body at the cellular level.
- Drink 2-4 cups per day. The quantity of cup size varies in each study from 5 to 8 ounces. So drinking several cups per day of any size is beneficial.
- Drink brewed tea. The most recent research suggests that consuming tea as it was intended—as a beverage—was the best way to help ensure tea would impart the most health benefits.
- Drink tea throughout the day. This ensures the benefits of the bioactive compounds remain consistent in the system rather than in peaks and troughs.
- Drink a variety of tea. The studies were conducted on all teas from the Camellia sinensis plant. All have their specific benefits – black, green, oolong, white and pu erh. No research singles out one type of tea over another for overall benefits to human health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015 Dietary Guidelines Committee released a study making recommendations on what to eat and not eat. Sadly, tea was nowhere to be found.
These guidelines are released every five years as new scientific studies come out on nutrition and health. So we have some work to do before 2020 if we want to have tea included as a healthy dietary recommendation!
All is not lost though. The Harvard School of Public Health also recommends up to 28 ounces of tea per day in their Healthy Beverages Guidelines.
And, Dr. Weil recommends two to four cups of tea per day in his anti-inflammatory food pyramid. Dr. Weil also recommends one to two glasses of red wine daily. Thank you, Dr. Weil.
There are so many benefits to drinking tea, I wrote about some of the top ten benefits here.
As Always – Thanks for Reading
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