Remember when your parents used to say that tea would stunt your growth? That couldn't be farther from the truth. Medicinal properties in tea are beneficial to your health and well-being. Tea contains vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A cup of tea has less than half the caffeine of coffee and is gentler on the body. While tea may not give you the fast kick that you get with a cup of coffee, it will certainly boost your energy levels and your immune system.
Tea is anything that comes from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis) -- varieties include green tea, black tea, white tea and oolong tea. "As long as the tea leaf is present, then you're going to have the benefits," says Shabnam Weber, owner of The Tea Emporium in Toronto. Throw in your favourite herbal or spice blend, such as orange blossom or chai, and you're in for a treat. Consider also the added health benefits of herbal blends, such as peppermint for reducing hot flashes, ginger for aiding digestion, or Rooibos, which is caffeine-free and very high in antioxidants.
If you're not convinced that a soothing cup of hot tea may be just what the doctor orders for a clean bill of heath, Shabnam serves up 8 reasons to indulge in teatime.
1. Strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of cancer
Tea contains catechins, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system. Vitamin H, also known as biotin, is present in teas and also assists with a healthy immune system. In addition, tea contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that assists in the prevention of cellular damage, cardiovascular disease, skin disease and UV-induced DNA damage.
2. Prevent tooth decay and fight bad breath
The fluoride in tea assists in preventing cavities. The catechins, or antioxidants, help to prevent halitosis. Catechins kill bacteria in the mouth. Tea contains calcium and magnesium, which work together to form healthy bones and teeth.
3. Build stronger bones
Tea contains vitamin D, which helps build bones. Also, the amino acids that are present in tea help form proteins in the body to build muscle, bone, skin and hair, as well as combat bacteria and viruses. Women who are experiencing menopause are usually told to eliminate caffeine because it causes bone loss; however, tea does not contain as much caffeine as coffee and may still be enjoyed. (Be sure to check with your doctor first.) Alternatively, try decaffeinated tea.
4. Protect your heart
The antioxidant in green tea, EGCg, speeds up the recovery of heart cells and minimizes cell death after a heart attack or stroke. Green tea is also associated with a reduced risk of coronary artery disease because its high quantity of antioxidants, namely flavonoids, may reduce the amount of cholesterol in the artery wall. Tea acts as an anti-inflammatory and improves blood vessel function.
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