Photo by: Drew Taylor via: https://unsplash.com/photos/7liDpl93wt4
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world… after water of course. Tea was first used for medicinal purposes thousands of years ago, before later becoming a popular beverage (Wikipedia). Entire books have been written on the subject of tea and numerous scientific articles tout the health benefits that come from drinking this brewed concoction of dried leaves.
Black tea for example is associated with reduced heart attack risk while green tea improves blood lipid values. The potent antioxidants in green tea seem to protect us from cancer and may help to boost metabolism (Academy of Dietetics, January, 2018). In addition, both green and black tea help to fight whole body inflammation (Science Direct, September, 2018).
Potential Down-Sides to Drinking Tea
Here in the South, our tea is sweet… often VERY sweet. Make no mistake, Southern sweet tea does NOT qualify as a health food!! A medium fast food sweet tea packs over 13 teaspoons of sugar according to posted nutrition information. Obviously this amount would be much lower if the cup contained half ice. Still though... over 6 grams of added sugar in a single drink is a hefty amount.
The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages caffeine “for all children”. While lower in caffeine than coffee, tea does still pack a significant dose of this stimulant. Kids and teens that consume tea in the late afternoon or at any time in the evening may have trouble falling asleep.
It is well known that the tannins in tea DO inhibit iron absorption from plant based foods such as whole grains, spinach and beans. While not a concern for most people, often drinking tea with meals or throughout the day could worsen iron deficiency anemia in those affected individuals.
Suggestions for those who wish to reap the benefits of tea… in a healthy way:
Enjoy a hot cup of your favorite black or green tea with breakfast, INSTEAD of the usual orange juice. Even the addition of a drop of honey to the tea would be far LESS sugar than what is naturally in the juice.
Drop a flavored green tea bag into your water bottle (ginger or jasmine are nice options). What a tasty way to get your antioxidants!
Wind down before bed with a cup of DECAFFEINATED green tea. The experience of holding the cup while slowly sipping hot tea can be a great way to relax. Losing the electronics at night would also help!
And just for fun… here is a list of ways to recycle those used tea bags!