The next time you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, put down your coffee and grab a cup of tea instead — sipping on it will make you a healthier, happier person. Drinking this warm beverage can do everything from fight disease to improve your exercise endurance. Just make sure you’re drinking real tea.
Greatist notes that tea comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis and only includes four varieties: green, black, white, and oolong. This means that if you’re drinking tea blends, such as herbal, you may not be reaping as many health benefits as you could be. Grab a cup and your favorite tea — after reading about these five health benefits, it’ll quickly become your go-to drink.
1. It keeps your bones healthy
Milk isn’t the only drink that contributes to strong bones. A study published in Nutrition Research notes that consuming green tea can help prevent age-related bone loss in elderly men and women. The study also showed that drinking tea improves bone mineral density and supports osteoblastic activites, a process that aids in bone formation, which decreases your risk of bone fractures.
The polyphenols in green tea may also play a role in your bone health. News Medical reports that numerous studies have found that the flavanols in green tea have a positive effect on bone remodeling, a process that helps maintain normal bone mass, which preserves bone density and slows bone loss.
2. It calms you down
When you’re feeling stressed, set aside a few minutes to sip a cup of tea. Psychology Today explains that the polyphenols found in green tea can boost dopamine in the areas of the brain where it’s most needed. Dopamine is a substance that plays a huge role in your brain health — it’s involved in transmitting signals of reward and motivation and helps your muscles move smoothly.
Furthermore, a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking tea is beneficial to your mood, work performance, and creativity. The Daily Meal reports that tea also contains an amino acid called theanine, which acts as an antidepressant and natural stress reliever. Theanine may even help with both physical and mental relaxation and has the ability to decrease anxiety without causing sleepiness.
3. It can boost exercise endurance
Drinking tea is an easy way for fitness fiends to boost their endurance. A study published in the American Journal of Physiology found that green tea contains catechins, or antioxidants, that increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel. Furthermore, that same study tested the effects of regularly taking green tea extract and discovered that over 10 weeks, endurance exercise performance was boosted between 8% and 24%.
Drinking any type of tea, as long as it’s caffeinated, will help you exercise for a longer period of time. Here’s how it works: Your body uses glycogen stores for energy when you exercise. When you begin to run out of those stores, you start to feel as though you’re running on empty, Greatist explains. Drinking about two cups of tea will slows your glycogen depletion by encouraging your body to use more fat as fuel. This will positively improve your sweat sessions and help your body push harder through tough endurance workouts, according to Greatist.
4. It protects you from disease
Tea is chock-full of antioxidants, which can help protect you from a wide array of cancers — including breast, colon, colorectal, skin, lung, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, pancreas, liver, ovarian, prostate, and oral — Greatist explains. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women who consume more flavonoids, an antioxidant that’s found in tea, were less likely to develop endothelial ovarian cancer.
Throughout the study, researchers looked at more than 170,000 women and their dietary habits for three decades. They found that just a couple of cups of black tea every day was linked with a 31% reduction in risk for endothelial ovarian cancer. Not only does tea reduce your cancer risk, but USA Today reports that it can also prevent chronic diseases, such as osteoporosis and heart disease.
5. It helps you lose weight
Drinking tea is one of the easiest ways to burn more calories each day. The Camellia sinensis plant, which is where tea comes from, contains compounds that provide a mild metabolic boost. Caring writes that this helps the body burn an extra 45 to 50 calories a day. “It sounds small, but over just a year, that could easily add up to five or more pounds,” Beth Reardon, an integrative nutritionist at Duke University, told Caring.
In addition, Fit Day explains that drinking green tea, which contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, can also boost your metabolism and speed up weight loss. EGCG works with the caffeine in green tea to stimulate the central nervous system and release fat into the blood stream, which causes your body to use fat as fuel rather than store it, according to Fit Day.