10 February 2015 Why Warm Up with Tea this Winter

Warming up with a cup of hot tea not only soothes the soul, but also when used to replace a sugary beverage can decrease calories and help you lose weight. Drink tea often to keep your antioxidant levels high throughout the day.

A cup of tea or a cup of infusion?

Even though the name tea is given to a lot of brews, purists only consider black, green, oolong and white tea as the real thing because they all originate from the same plant called Camellia sinensis, which is native to China and India. Just as surprised as the Emperor in China was, who supposedly drank the first tea in 2737 B.C. when a leaf from that plant floated down into his cup of boiling water, it just dawned on me that whenever I order a “Té” in Spain, I always receive a black tea. If I want to order a chamomile, peppermint, or rooibos tea, I need to order an “Infusion”. An “infusion” or herbal tea is made from the leaves, buds, flowers, seed and roots of other plants. The language in Spain truly reflects the way purists define tea.

Health Benefits of Tea

Hydration

If one or your New Years’ Resolutions was to increase fluids, drinking a cup of tea is a tasteful way to do that. Squeeze a lemon to your tea to add another health boost of ascorbic acid during these winter months!

Prevent fatigue

One of the first signs of dehydration is fatigue. Thus, if you are having a 3:00 afternoon slump at work, brew up a little tea bag or use a teaspoon of loose leaves to help increase your energy level. Maybe, you were just dehydrated!

Increase your antioxidants

All teas contain a group of antioxidants called polyphenols that can help promote health. Even though the research available is “hot and cold” (sorry for the pun!) regarding whether drinking tea can help prevent chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, increasing your antioxidants can help promote good health.

“Teas” contain more antioxidants than “infusions”. Since white and green teas are less processed, they contain more antioxidants than oolong and black teas. Herbal teas have lower amounts of antioxidants because the chemical composition varies greatly among different plants.

Fruits, vegetables and whole grains, are also high in antioxidants so increase those as well.

Prevent constipation

If one of your New Years’ Resolutions was to increase fiber in your diet, and if you have not increased your fluid consumption at the same time, you may feel a little constipated. On this note, interestingly enough, a review from 2007 demonstrated that except for colon-rectal cancer, there is conflicting evidence whether drinking tea can help prevent cancer.

Pause and decrease stress

One of my clients who was prone to emotional eating when she returned home after a long day of work, started to make a tea as the first activity when she entered her home. Pausing these 5 minutes, helped her become mindful and truly evaluate if she was actually hungry or just stressed. She then made better food choices.

How much should I drink each day?

The key to tea is to drink it frequently. I used to just drink a large cup of tea every morning. After reading this research, I have started to drink tea three times a day. This Greek study from 2008 found that people had better blood vessel function just 30 minutes after drinking tea. Consequently, since tea drinking can provide such an acute and immediate effect to your blood vessels, keeping those levels high throughout the day (not just at breakfast time!), can possibly help decrease your risk of heart disease.

Looking for a DIY Healthy Valentine’s Day Present?

In a basket put:

  • Big mug (more than 20 ounces) so that you truly are increasing your fluid consumption.
  • Electric hot water boiler Quick and efficient for a speedy cup of tea!
  • In-mug stainless steel tea sieve/infuser I have had enough of those cutesy ones with large holes that always leak leaves!
  • Loose Leaf Tea (3 varieties so you can mix and match!).
  • Fresh lemon or can of apple juice Add a splash of apple juice or lemon to your fruit teas!
  • Coupon for a “2 hour tea class” at a local tea shop!

Martha Henze

MS, RD, Traveling Taste Buds, LLC

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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

Tags:

Alcohol & Other Beverages/Coffee & Tea

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