As a teenager one of my favorite pre-game meals was a low-fat chocolate shake from McDonald’s coupled with Little Caesar’s breadsticks. Sure, I did plenty of things wrong back then but there is one thing I did very right – I drank tea thanks to my parent’s influence. A hot cup (or several) of black tea was one of my favorite beverages of choice when it was cold outside (it can snow in March in Washington so that’s one long season of cold weather!). As I got older I experimented – green tea, green tea with lemon, white tea, Pomegranate white tea, Earl Grey. There are so many awesome varieties and I switch between them all depending on what my taste buds are thirsty for.
There are many health benefits to tea. In fact, it is one of the top sources of polyphenols in the American diet. While we’ve known for a while that white, black, green and oolong tea can help lower some risk factors for cardiovascular disease, a new study revealed that three cups a day can significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke. And the more you drink, the better off you are. That’s big news considering the number of people in this country who are hypertensive (have high blood pressure).
In this study, UCLA researchers reviewed 9 observational studies where tea intake was accounted for and incidence of stroke documented. They aren’t quite sure which component in tea (or components) help reduce the risk of stroke but they have speculated that it could be the EGCG or theanine.
During the cold winter months and even chilly spring days, I often find myself reaching for my next cup of tea. The combination of it’s naturally occurring amino acid theanine and caffeine help relax me yet keep me alert and focused (actually this is backed by research) and, tea keeps me warm. By the hot summer months I brew it and throw a few ice cubes in it and still consider it the perfect beverage.
Remember, herbal tea, though it can be tasty, isn’t really tea (from the plant Camellia sinesis) and therefore doesn’t confer the same benefits as black, white, green or oolong tea.