Take a Tea Break: Tea is Tasty and Healthy, Too

By: Kristen Castillo

Whether you start your day with English breakfast, sip lemon zest during the day or end the night with a cup of chamomile, tea is a tasty drink any time. A cup of tea is good for you, too. Tea is packed with antioxidants, which can help keep you healthy.

Tea has no sodium, sugar or fat. It’s a versatile drink that can be enjoyed hot or cold. In fact, iced tea accounts for 85 percent of the tea consumed in the U.S. Caffeine-free versions are ideal for tea drinkers who want their tea without the sometimes high-energy effect caffeine can have.

Worldwide, tea is the most popular beverage after water. Every day, 158 million Americans drink tea. Millennials love it, too – 87 percent of that generation are tea drinkers. The most popular teas in the U.S.? Black tea, green tea, Oolong, white and dark teas. Sales of green tea have surged 60 percent over black tea in the past 10 years.

Tea has many health benefits. It’s associated with lower risks for heart disease, cancer and liver disease. Drinking three cups of black or green tea daily may prevent strokes. It’s also linked to lower cholesterol levels, reduced colon cancer risk and reduced skin cancer risk.

Tea may even help with depression. Recent studies showed those with higher tea consumption had lower depression risk levels. For every three cups of tea a day, the tea drinker’s depression risk decreased 37 percent.

Some studies suggest drinking green tea “may improve weight loss and maintenance.” As the Tea Council explains, “Preliminary research suggests tea flavonoids help elevate metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and improve insulin activity.”

The drink is linked to a lower risk of diabetes, too. Harvard research shows tea is rich in polyphenols, which help regulate blood sugar. The study shows tea drinkers are less likely to develop diabetes over time, perhaps because the drink’s polyphenols stabilize their blood sugar.

Still, Harvard researchers caution that the drink is not a cure-all. Instead, they suggest tea can be incorporated into “an overall healthy diet with whole grains, fish, fruits and vegetables, and less red and processed meat.”

No matter kind of tea you drink, be cautious not to add too many extras like sugar, cream or flavorings, which can add fat and calories to an otherwise healthy drink.