April 5, 2005 at 1:27 PM ET
If you're not drinking tea yet, read up on these 10 ways tea does your body good and then see if you're ready to change your Starbucks order!
1. Tea contains antioxidants. Like the Rust-Oleum paint that keeps your outdoor furniture from rusting, tea's antioxidants protect your body from the ravages of aging and the effects of pollution.
2. Tea has less caffeine than coffee. Coffee usually has two to three times the caffeine of tea (unless you're a fan of Morning Thunder, which combines caffeine with mate, an herb that acts like caffeine in our body). An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains around 135 mg caffeine; tea contains only 30 to 40 mg per cup. If drinking coffee gives you the jitters, causes indigestion or headaches or interferes with sleep -- switch to tea.
3. Tea may reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. Unwanted blood clots formed from cholesterol and blood platelets cause heart attack and stroke. Drinking tea may help keep your arteries smooth and clog-free, the same way a drain keeps your bathroom pipes clear. A 5.6-year study from the Netherlands found a 70 percent lower risk of fatal heart attack in people who drank at least two to three cups of black tea daily compared to non-tea drinkers.
4. Tea protects your bones. It's not just the milk added to tea that builds strong bones. One study that compared tea drinkers with non-drinkers, found that people who drank tea for 10 or more years had the strongest bones, even after adjusting for age, body weight, exercise, smoking and other risk factors. The authors suggest that this may be the work of tea's many beneficial phytochemicals.
5. Tea gives you a sweet smile. One look at the grimy grin of Austin Powers and you may not think drinking tea is good for your teeth, but think again. It's the sugar added to it that's likely to blame for England's bad dental record. Tea itself actually contains fluoride and tannins that may keep plaque at bay. So add unsweetened tea drinking to your daily dental routine of brushing and flossing for healthier teeth and gums.
6. Tea bolsters your immune defenses. Drinking tea may help your body's immune system fight off infection. When 21 volunteers drank either five cups of tea or coffee each day for four weeks, researchers saw higher immune system activity in the blood of the tea drinkers.
7. Tea protects against cancer. Thank the polyphenols, the antioxidants found in tea, once again for their cancer-fighting effects. While the overall research is inconclusive, there are enough studies that show the potential protective effects of drinking tea to make adding tea to your list of daily beverages.
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8. Tea helps keep you hydrated. Caffeinated beverages, including tea, used to be on the list of beverages that didn't contribute to our daily fluid needs. Since caffeine is a diuretic and makes us pee more, the thought was that caffeinated beverages couldn't contribute to our overall fluid requirement. However, recent research has shown that the caffeine really doesn't matter -- tea and other caffeinated beverages definitely contribute to our fluid needs. The only time the caffeine becomes a problem as far as fluid is concerned is when you drink more than five or six cups of a caffeinated beverage at one time.
9. Tea is calorie-free. Tea doesn't have any calories, unless you add sweetener or milk. Consuming even 250 fewer calories per day can result in losing one pound per week. If you're looking for a satisfying, calorie-free beverage, tea is a top choice.
10. Tea increases your metabolism. Lots of people complain about a slow metabolic rate and their inability to lose weight. Green tea has been shown to actually increase metabolic rate so that you can burn 70 to 80 additional calories by drinking just five cups of green tea per day. Over a year's time you could lose eight pounds just by drinking green tea. Of course, taking a 15-minute walk every day will also burn calories.