Next to water, tea is the most consumed beverage in the world. Data suggests global tea consumption is growing, and will hit nearly 300 billion liters by 2021. That means people around the world are gulping down more than 3 billion cups each day. That’s a lot of tea.
Fortunately, tea is healthy. And the more scientists study it, the more they learn about the benefits of drinking tea. A recent study published in the Advances in Nutrition journal found a link between increased tea consumption and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality. The study looked specifically at black and green tea, and noted the following results with each cup of daily consumption:
- 4% lower risk of cardiovascular disease-caused mortality
- 4% lower risk of stroke
- 2% lower risk of cardiovascular disease events
- 1.5% lower risk of all-cause mortality
That’s per cup, so if you up your daily tea intake even more — say, from one to three cups — you may increase those numbers even further.
Many of the benefits of tea are believed to come from phytonutrients called flavonoids. “Flavonoids are rich in antioxidant activity and can help your body ward off everyday toxins — or, in science terms, free radicals that cause oxidative damage,” says Amy Goodson, RD, a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics. “Flavonoids can also help your body fight off inflammation.” She notes that black and green teas also contain polyphenols, which are another source of antioxidants known to protect the heart. “Both have been shown to help improve blood pressure and might also help lower cholesterol,” she adds.
According to the study, approximately 21% of Americans report consuming tea daily. They benefit from the practice, as those who do consume tea were shown to have roughly 20 times the flavonoid intake as compared to their non-tea-drinking peers. If everyone got aboard the tea train, it could have a significant impact on public health. Per the study authors, “Incorporating tea as part of a healthy diet is a simple dietary modification that may have positive public health implications on chronic disease risk reduction worldwide.” All that from aromatic little plants steeped in water.
If you’re not currently a tea drinker and you’d like to start, or if you’re thinking about increasing your daily intake, you’ll want to consider the effects of caffeine. Green tea typically contains between 25–45 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce cup, while black tea varies more in intensity and can contain anywhere from 40–100 milligrams per cup. For reference, the FDA defines safe caffeine intake for adults at up to 400 milligrams per day.
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“Caffeine-sensitive people or those on medications affected by caffeine need to consider their tea intake in addition to other caffeine sources consumed,” advises Goodson. She notes that too much caffeine can lead to negative side effects, such as anxiety, headaches, digestive issues and disrupted sleep patterns. Most people can drink 3–4 cups of tea daily without adverse effects, but some may experience side effects at lower doses.
“Overall, there are more perceived health benefits to tea than health risks,” says Goodson. So, if you want to add tea to your daily routine, go ahead and have a cup — or several.
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