Tea, second only to water as the most consumed beverage in the world, comes in many varieties to suit every palate and need. While tea as a whole contains the antioxidants -- flavonoids and polyphenols responsible its medicinal properties -- each type has its own unique benefit.
The phytonutrients in tea shield your physical and mental health from harm in more ways than you can imagine. The protective effects of tea include the following:
Tea is an anti-aging drink that provides your body with antioxidants to defend against cellular damage and early degeneration caused by pollutants. These same antioxidants enhance your immune system, keeping your resistance level high against various diseases.
Tea lowers total cholesterol level, especially the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol. Studies have shown polyphenols in tea help burn body fat and prevent build-up in the arteries -- clogged and hardened arteries increase the risk for heart attack and stroke. Black and oolong tea are the most effective in lowering cholesterol.
Tea helps with weight reduction by burning body fat, hastening metabolism and having zero calories on its own.
Tea increases your body’s defense against gastrointestinal cancer. The polyphenols in tea may help prevent the growth of colon cancer cells, and ongoing clinical trials are further examining the anti-cancer properties of tea.
Recently, three varieties of tea have garnered wide attention for their distinct health benefits:
1. Red Clover Tea
Red clover is a plant originally grown in temperate climates, but can now be seen all over North America. The leaves and flowers of the red clover plant can be processed to be brewed as tea and red clover has long been the subject of scientific studies for its medicinal effects. Aside from its many nutrients, red clover is praised as a rich source of isoflavones -- phytochemicals that act like the hormone estrogen in women. Drinking red clover tea can help treat and possibly even alleviate symptoms of these conditions:
Red clover is also a source of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus, chromium and magnesium. Calcium and potassium regulate the heart beat, vitamin C protects against respiratory diseases and the B vitamins assist the nervous system. There are no known adverse side effects to drinking red clover tea, but it should be avoided by women who are pregnant or lactating.
2. Three Root Tea
Three root tea is produced from the roots of the rhodiola, ashwagandha and schisandra plants. These three herbs each have their own unique beneficial properties, and when combined they make a potent adversary to stress and anxiety, rejuvenating and revitalizing the mind and body:
Indigenous to cold countries, scientific studies of the rhodiola plant have shown its ability to aid in the treatment of depression and senile dementia in humans. The essential oils in rhodiola regulate serotonin and dopamine activities, helping to balance mood as an adaptogen and promoting sustained mental health.
Also known as the Indian ginseng, ashwagandha is a popular aphrodisiac in Southeast Asia. Aside from enhancing the male sexual drive and treating impotence, ashwagandha boosts energy in both men and women. This herb restores vitality and boosts the immune system, warding off diseases like the common cold, flu and other infections and promotes production of thyroid hormones. Ashwagandha also helps reduce sugar cravings, which can assist diabetics in regulating blood sugar levels.
This herb has long been recognized in folk medicine as an effective treatment for mental illnesses like including schizophrenia. Schisandra strengthens mental alertness and boosts physical strength. Schisandra is also rich in antioxidants, providing protection against respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases.
3. Dandelion Root Tea
The dandelion plant has a bad reputation as a weed, but it's actually an excellent source of vitamins A, C, D and B, as well as the minerals iron, potassium and zinc. In a study conducted at the University of Maryland Medical Center, patients with hepatitis B saw improved liver function after consuming dandelion root drinks. This root is also showing positive effects on gallbladder stones.
With so many different benefits, you have no excuse not to drink tea regularly. And with so many varieties, you are sure to find one that suits your needs.