Time for Tea

Laura Brieser-SmithFor many people there is nothing more relaxing than a cup of hot tea. It appears that in addition to the “psychological” benefits of tea, there may be some physical benefits, too. Green tea, black tea, white tea, and oolong tea all contain powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, which many researchers have found to be protective against cancer, heart disease and stroke. In fact, a cup of tea provides three to five times the antioxidant power of a typical serving of fruits or vegetables. In addition, black tea may help to relax the lining of blood vessels which allows them to expand more when the body needs more blood flow, such as during exercise. This also reduces the risk of blood clots and inflammation of the vessels which may increase a person’s risk of heart attack and stroke.

Tea’s potential health benefits hold true for iced tea brewed from tea bags. Unfortunately, during processing some of the polyphenols are lost, making instant powdered ice tea mixes less potent in fighting disease. Tea’s potential benefits hold up even if you add milk, lemon or sugar to your drink. One added benefit of tea vs. coffee is that for those who are worried about caffeine, tea contains about half the caffeine of coffee. The evidence is mounting that tea may be a healthful addition to your diet. So, it might not be a bad idea to ditch your morning cup of coffee in favor of a large steaming mug of tea.

Laura Brieser-Smith, RD, MPH, CHFS is a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer. She is the owner of Healthy Designs, LLC which provides nutrition counseling and personal training to clients in their homes or offices. She can be reached at 303-635-1131 or at hlthydsign@aol.com

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