If you enjoy the soothing experience of sipping a hot cup of tea, it turns out you are doing your body some favors, too. Throughout history, tea has been used as a tool for improving health in many different ways. In recent years, Western research has confirmed that drinking tea has many physical and emotional benefits, from improving heart health to increasing happiness. Because of tea's healing properties, including antioxidant-rich flavonoids, there are a number of surprising ways that tea can enhance your mind, body, and overall well-being.
Here are 7 things tea can do:
Fight Cancer. Research on green tea has shown that it can be a powerful protector against cancer. Specifically, green tea may be protective against cancers of the lung, bladder, esophagus, breast, pancreas, prostate, colon, stomach and skin. This effect happens after the tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, which helps slow down the growth of tumors.
Lower Blood Pressure. Some green and herbal teas can be useful in regulating blood pressure. In one study, people who drank hibiscus tea regularly saw a reduction in their blood pressure, which researchers believe was due to the tea's phytochemicals. A separate study showed that people who drank just half a cup of green tea every day for a year lowered their risk of high blood pressure by almost 50 percent. Even black tea, according to another recent study, can lower blood pressure by several points.
Relieve Allergies. Any hot beverage can ease allergy symptoms by relieving congestion, but green tea in particular can provide extra relief by blocking a cell receptor related to allergies. If you add stinging nettle leaf to your tea, you will get even more allergy relief, since nettle contains histamines that produce an effect similar to pharmaceutical antihistamine drugs. But check with your health-care provider before taking this step.
Lower Stress. Recent research out of London suggests that drinking black tea relieves stress and increases relaxation. The study participants who drank black tea were compared to others who were given a tea-substitute, and the results showed that the black tea drinkers showed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol after being exposed to stress. These results suggest that black tea can be an effective tool in recovering from stressful day-to-day situations.
Improve Eye Health. Green tea contains certain properties and antioxidants that can actually be absorbed into eye tissue, protecting against eye diseases like glaucoma. The catechins in green tea are thought to be responsible for this protective effect.
Reduce Heart Disease Risk. Green and black tea have both been shown to increase the health of cells that line the blood vessels, lowering the risk of heart disease. The antioxidants in tea also increase HDL cholesterol - the good kind - and reduce LDL cholesterol, the bad kind. The flavonoids in tea increase the overall functioning of the arteries, leading to a well-established protective effect for the heart.
Speed Up Metabolism. If, like many others, your metabolism has slowed over the years, you could benefit by adding several cups of tea per day to your diet. Tea aficionados in China have long used green tea as a weight loss aid, and Western researchers have recently discovered through studies that green tea indeed contains compounds that can increase the speed of your metabolism. To get the benefit, drink at least three cups of green tea daily.
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