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"If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you." -William Ewart Gladstone
The health benefits of drinking tea have been well-documented from its ancient beginnings as simple leaves floating in boiling water pots to the more contemporary expressions as frothy matcha lattes and colorful boba concoctions.
While the health properties of tea's bioactive compounds have been supported by scientific evidence for decades, we now have guidance on exactly how much of these nutrients we need daily to reap the associated health benefits of tea. The new guidelines, based on a collaboration between the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Science and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, include dietary recommendations for flavan-3-ol intake.
This is exciting news for tea enthusiasts and even casual tea drinkers. Something enjoyable that we’ve always associated with a healthy lifestyle now has actionable recommendations on exactly how much tea to drink for better health. We’re here to walk you through the basics on how including a simple morning and afternoon tea ritual into your day can improve your whole health – in body, mind and spirit.
What are Flavan-3-ols?
Flavan-3-ols are plant compounds found in foods and beverages including tea, berries, apples and dark chocolate. True teas like green and black teas, untouched by the less healthy sugars and milks added to popular tea drinks, have been found to have the highest concentrations of flavan-3-ols of all foods and beverages studied.
How Much Tea Should I Drink for Health Benefits?
Research shows that consuming 400-600mg of flavan-3-ols daily, equal to about two 8-ounce cups of brewed green or black tea, can help improve blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. That said, waking up with a cup of black tea in the morning and taking time out in the afternoon for a mellow green tea is all you need to meet those recommendations.
What are Some of the Health Benefits of Tea?
At AdventHealth, we are committed to our legacy of encouraging whole health and healing by attending to the body, mind and spirit. Since drinking tea can improve your physical, mental and emotional health in tangible ways, let’s take a look at the “what, how and why” behind tea’s health benefits so you can start reaping the benefits if you haven’t already.
Tea and Heart Health
Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” In tea, we have a way to do just that. Extensive research shows that those two cups of pure unsweetened tea per day can mitigate heart attack, stroke, angina and other vascular diseases.
A large study on heart health and tea demonstrated that each cup of daily tea consumption was associated with a 1.5% decreased risk of death from all causes, a 4% lower mortality risk from heart disease, a 2% lower risk from events related to heart disease (like heart attack) and a 4% lower risk related to stroke events.
Tea and Immune Function
If you get sick, tea can potentially help your body rid itself of the infection and may reduce the severity when infections happen. Research has concluded that green tea catechins have been shown to help the body fight against a variety of pathogens.
Catechins help your body’s immune system spring into action, reducing the ability of pathogens to infect your body.
Tea and Cancer
Teas contain compounds called flavonoids that have antioxidant properties. Green tea is most associated with anti-cancer properties because it contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants.
Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals, unstable molecules that can come from pollutants as well as naturally occurring in our bodies. While free radicals can damage cells and contribute to cancer or heart disease, evidence suggests that consuming tea can help control those free radicals and decrease the risk of cancers including breast, endometrial, liver and oral cancer.
Tea and Cognitive Function
Prevention is vital when it comes to cognitive diseases like dementia. Growing evidence indicates that those two 8-ounce cups of tea each day can significantly decrease the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Data from long-term studies shows that the higher your intake of tea (between one and six cups daily), the more you are protected from dementia.
Tea and Mental Well-Being
Drinking tea is also good for your mental health. The act of drinking tea encourages us to slow down and savor the moment by sipping rather than gulping, noticing rather than rushing.
Studies suggest that the amino acid L-theanine found in the tea plant can be a powerful combatant against anxiety. It alters the attention networks in the brain and has demonstrable effects on brain waves, leading to a feeling of relaxation without causing drowsiness.
Researchers have also found that drinking tea lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And evidence of long-term health benefits shows that drinking green tea daily seems to lower the risk of developing depression.
Tea and Emotional Wellness
Drinking tea with others inspires conversations, cultivates connections and it warms the body, mind and spirit. Or, it can be a nice quieting ritual to include as part of your self-care practice. Whether you drink tea with others, on your own or a combination, make a point to slow down, feel the warmth of the cup in your hands, breathe deep and enjoy. Cheers!
Whole Health is Our Cup of Tea
At AdventHealth Heart and Vascular Care, we know that prevention through a healthy lifestyle is the best medicine against heart disease and other ailments. We encourage you to include tea as part of your path to whole health along with a nutritious diet, plenty of physical activity, fresh air and positive connections with others. Your heart will thank you for it.
We’re here for you as your partner in whole health. Learn how we can help support your heart health here.