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8 Top Reasons Drinking Tea Is Good for Your Health


We don’t know exactly how the late Queen Elizabeth II managed to live a full, vigorous, 96 years. But we do know she had one habit, shared by many of her subjects in the United Kingdom, that just might contribute to a long, healthy life: She drank tea every day.

While tea is not as popular in the United States as it is in the United Kingdom, or many other parts of the world, the latest research on tea and health just might be enough to win over some U.S. converts. And the millions of Americans who already drink tea can sip their next cup knowing they might be fighting everything from heart disease to stress to thinning bones, researchers say.

Although some of the research on specific benefits is inconclusive, “the bottom line is that tea is a healthful beverage,” says Jeffrey Blumberg, an active professor emeritus of nutrition at Tufts University. After all, he and other experts say, tea is a plant food. Whether it’s black, green, or oolong, all true teas come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. (Herbal teas, which come from a variety of plants, may have different benefits).  

True teas all contain compounds known as flavonoids that are antioxidants, meaning they can prevent or delay some kinds of cell damage. Some flavonoids in teas, called catechins, appear to fight inflammation, protect blood vessels and have other potentially healthful effects. While catechins are higher in green teas than in the black teas favored in the United States, it’s not clear whether that makes a health difference, Blumberg says. For one thing, he says, blood tests have found similar flavonoid levels in people who drink green or black tea.

Other substances in teas, including caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine, might also contribute to health benefits, researchers say.

Different teas might have some different effects, “but that’s the kind of detail we really haven’t hashed out quite yet,” says Marilyn Cornelis, an associate professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University. “We’re only really beginning to understand more about tea and its health benefits.”

With that said, research done so far does suggest that tea might help you:

1.  Live longer

People in the United Kingdom who drank two or more cups of tea daily had a reduced risk of death over more than a decade of follow-up, according to a study published in September in Annals of Internal Medicine. The study, led by researchers at the National Cancer Institute, was notable because it was big, including half a million people, and because it included mostly black-tea drinkers. Previous studies showing that tea drinkers live longer had mostly focused on green-tea drinkers in Asia.

A caveat: While these studies show tea drinkers live longer, they don’t prove tea is a reason. Tea drinkers could have other characteristics or habits, unaccounted for by researchers, that matter. Cornelis, who was a coauthor on the recent study, also notes that British tea drinkers might differ in some ways from tea drinkers in the United States, though both favor black teas.

One difference, Blumberg says, is that the Brits tend to drink their tea stronger. The study didn’t look at tea strength, though.



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