Why Tea Makes You Happy, Healthy, and Smart

ThinkstockMove over, coffee. Tea, java's subdued little sister, is having a moment. According to 12 new studies published in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming tea on a daily basis can boost weight loss, bone health, concentration, problem-solving skills, even your mood.

"Although we’re a nation of coffee drinkers, tea is the oldest beverage in the world and its health properties are indisputable," Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD, a registered dietitian and a media resource of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Yahoo Shine. "To experience the health benefits of tea, people should aim to drink 3 to 5 cups per day." Behold, five benefits of the brew:

It boosts productivity: That guy in the neighboring cube who won't stop humming? Drinking black and green tea will help drown out the noise. The research found that sipping two to three cups over a 90-minute period improves alertness, attention span, and focus, helping people produce more accurate work. "One possible reason is that the combination of an amino acid called L-theanine and caffeine stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, giving drinkers a shot of energy, without that jittery feeling," says Upton.

It makes you happy: Of the things that make you smile — praise from your boss, watching a sunset, reading a great book — black and green tea may not make the list, but they should. L-theanine helps produce the feel-good neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. "There’s also something uplifting about anticipating a daily pleasurable ritual," says Upton.

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It helps you lose weight:
It's a fact that green tea drinkers have lower body mass indexes (BMI’s), waist-to-hip ratios, and body fat than those who abstain. Compounds called a polyphenols increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and antioxidants called catechins spike a person's basal metabolic resting rate (the rate at which one burns calories while, say, watching a movie or typing on the computer) over a 24-hour period. "Green tea isn't a miracle weight-loss method; however, the average person will burn 100 more calories doing what they would normally do throughout the day, just by drinking it," says Upton. In fact, studies on green tea catechin supplements have found that subjects lost about three pounds in 12 weeks without changes to their diet or exercise routines.

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It builds bones: When it comes to preventing osteoporosis, milk tends to hog the spotlight but green tea is ready for its close up. "Polyphenols increase the production of bone-building cells for people of all ages and antioxidants called flavanols slow bone loss in postmenopausal women," says Upton. Tea may also make you buffer — although scientists aren't sure why, tea drinkers tend to be more toned than those who don't partake. 

It's heart-healthy: A greasy burger with fries sounds awesome, but the havoc it wrecks on your body is not. However, ending the meal with a cup of black tea can counteract the effects of fatty food on blood pressure and arterial blood flow. "The effect is almost immediate," says Upton. "Black tea loosens the blood vessels, helping blood circulate more freely and lowers blood pressure." Add a drop of honey and consider it dessert.

More on Yahoo Shine:
5 Myths About Tea
10 Surprising Ways to Cook With Tea
Green Tea May Help Prevent Alzheimer's

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