By SUSAN BOWERMAN
MS, RD, CSSD, CSOWM, FAND,
Senior Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training, Herbalife Nutrition.
Rich in ceremony and steeped in tradition, drinking and serving tea is a daily practice for individuals worldwide.
The benefits of drinking tea go beyond the art of preparation and taking in the aroma. Green, black and herbal teas contain phytonutrients, compounds that not only give plants their colour, flavour and aroma, but can also benefit human health.
Some tea companies even infuse already good-for-you tea with vitamins and functional herbs. Consider them a different school of functional tea.
From fruit-infused green tea to “energy” and “bedtime” blends, there are dozens of functional teas to choose from. Here are a few time-tested functional teas to keep in your cabinet.
Green and Black Tea
To support antioxidant activity, prepare a cup of green tea. Made from the Camellia sinensis plant, green tea contains four components called catechins, which are part of a family of compounds known as flavonoids.
Black tea, including Orange Pekoe, also contains polyphenols, including catechins, thearubigins, and theaflavins, which are thought to be responsible for many of its observed benefits as an antioxidant. Black tea can also provide an increased feeling of energy as it may deliver up to 2 times more caffeine.
Chamomile promotes relaxation and restful sleep. Chamomile’s sleep-inducing effects have to do with the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to certain receptors in the brain, causing sleepiness.
Chamomile also holds anti-inflammatory properties. Researchers from University Hospitals Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, examined the anti-inflammatory effects of chamomile tea. They found chamomile exhibited activity similar to that of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).
Just like lavender essential oils promote relaxation and sleep, drinking lavender tea has calming benefits.
Aromatherapists use lavender to treat headaches, nervous disorders and exhaustion. Other natural health practitioners recommend it in a bath to treat muscle and joint pain. Try a spot of lavender tea before bed and feel your cares melt away.
For an overall digestive soother, drink a steaming cup of peppermint tea. One of the best teas for digestion, peppermint is generally known to soothe stomach-aches, cramps and heartburn.
Refreshing peppermint contains menthol, which can break up phlegm and thin mucus. The next time you have a cold, inhale the steam before you drink up.
Green, black and herbal tea compounds may have beneficial properties, but the ritual of preparing tea also has a place in a healthy lifestyle. Curling up with a warm cup of tea is a calorie- and alcohol-free way to relax at the end of the day and it’s a great way to stay hydrated.
Always read the label – use only as directed.