Your morning cup of tea may be doing more than keeping you awake.
Though we turn to certain teas when we want to reduce menstrual cramps (like peppermint tea) or brew a cup of tea for sleep, black tea is one of the most widely-loved varieties that gets very little applause for its benefits. So, before you opt for another cup of coffee or green tea, we chatted with experts to break down why you should pour yourself a cup—and the black tea benefits you should know.
Drinking black tea is a healthy beverage option that is sugar-free, calorie-free, and full of antioxidants, says Amanda Holtzer, M.S., R.D., a dietitian at Culina Health. In fact, it’s the most consumed beverage in the world other than water, making it a major part of many people’s lives.
As long as you’re not sensitive to caffeine, feel reactive to the tea itself, or add excessive amounts of sugar to your brew, regularly sipping on black tea can add some major health perks to your routine, says Robin Foroutan, M.S., R.D.N., integrative dietitian. Additionally, though black tea has some great health benefits, it’s best to beware of it if you have anemia, because it can decrease iron absorption, adds Anna Rios, R.D.N., the registered dietitian behind Healthy Simple Yum.
Though one of the best benefits of sipping on black tea is that it’s warm, comforting, tastes good, and you can get it for a low price just about anywhere, we asked experts to break down the top health benefits of black tea for the next time you brew a cup.
Benefits Of Black Tea
Helps You Focus
Because of the caffeine content in black tea, it can help with focus and energy levels, Holtzer says. And brewed tea as a drink has about a third to a half of the caffeine of a cup of coffee. So, it’s great for people who want that extra boost without the stimulating sip, Foroutan says. “Because tea has caffeine plus L-theanine, a compound that helps your body make more calming neurotransmitters, black tea can give you a more balanced boost,” she notes.
Boosts Heart Health
A recent study found two or more cups of black tea per day can lower the risk of early death from cardiovascular disease, ischemic heart disease, and stroke. Additionally, tea can help improve the health and function of the endothelium layer of the blood vessels, explains Foroutan. This can help support proper blood flow throughout the body and encourage healthy blood pressure. “Tea drinkers have been found to have a lower risk for strokes and atherosclerosis,” she notes. Antioxidants found in black tea called flavonoids can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, Rios says.
Reduces LDL Cholesterol
Holtzer says some research indicates that beyond overall heart health, black tea in the diet can reduce LDL cholesterol known as “bad” cholesterol in the blood. Other research has found that though it doesn’t always have an impact on total or HDL cholesterol, it can significantly lower concentrations of LDL.
Lowers Blood Pressure
A recent scientific review noted that drinking black tea regularly can improve blood pressure. Research has found that drinking black tea can then improve risks associated with those who suffer from high blood pressure, like a stroke.
Improves Gut Health
The antioxidants present in black tea can positively influence gut microbes, Foroutan says. Rios adds, “Polyphenols can also promote the growth of food bacteria in the gut which leads to improved gut health.” And research around polyphenol’s positive impact on gut health backs it up.
Black tea has antioxidants called polyphenols that can help reduce inflammation, Rios says, which can in turn help lower the risk for chronic disease. Holtzer adds that these polyphenols work to protect the body against oxidative stress, which can lower the risk of chronic diseases, inflammation, heart disease, and cancer.
Protects From UV Damage
“There’s some compelling research about drinking tea and preventing UV damage from sun exposure,” Foroutan says. Though, you should definitely still lather on some sunscreen when heading outdoors as more research is needed.
Has Anti-Cancerous Properties
Research indicates regularly drinking tea can lower your risk of premature death from cancer. Foroutan adds that tea has many anti-cancerous properties and can protect your DNA from oxidative damage which can reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Balances Blood Sugar
Especially if you don’t add sweetener to your tea, it’s a sugar-free drink that can help hydrate the body and offer anti-inflammatory benefits that have a positive impact on blood sugar, Rios says. It’s also a great option for those looking to stabilize blood sugar or have prediabetes or diabetes, Holtzer adds.
Maintains A Healthy Body Weight
Though people have been touting weight loss tea for decades, a recent scientific review noted regular black tea consumption can suppress digestion and absorption of fats and complex sugars, potentially supporting healthy body weight without the gut discomfort.
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