Tea can do more than just warm you up on a chilly day. The centuries-old drink has many health benefits, including lowering blood pressure, stress reduction and cancer prevention. For maximum benefits, load up on five cups per day. If that's too much tea for your taste, try adding it to a smoothie. No matter how you get it, green tea is good for your body.
Green Tea and Stress Reduction
Drinking five cups of green tea every day can reduce stress by 20 percent, according to a Japanese study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." The study included 42,093 participants, including 2,774 who suffered from stress. After accounting for differences in age, disease history, sex, diet and other confounding factors, the researchers concluded that people who drank five cups of green tea daily had less stress than those who drank less than one cup each day. Researchers credit the results to the amount of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a potent antioxidant found in green tea, which has also been shown to reduce mental and physical fatigue.
Increased Agility and Independence in Old Age
Drinking green tea daily is associated with a lower risk of functional disability. Scientists at the Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan studied almost 14,000 adults over the age of 65 for three years. Participants who drank the most green tea were also the least likely to experience problems with basic needs, like bathing or dressing, or daily activities. Again, the magic number is at least five cups a day. Those who drank less were at least 25 percent more likely to develop functional disabilities.
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
Green tea contains antioxidants that can prevent the oxidation of “bad” cholesterol, improve artery function and increase levels of “good” cholesterol, according to Harvard Medical School. In a recent study published in the "Archives of Internal Medicine," drinking green tea was also shown to reduce the risk of hypertension by up to 65 percent. In order to get the most antioxidants out of your green tea, and lower your risk for heart disease, drink freshly brewed tea that has been steeped for 3 to 5 minutes.
The health benefits of green and other teas are largely due to their high content of flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea is the best source of a specific type of flavonoid called catechins. "Harvard Women's Health Watch" claims that these antioxidants have been shown to be more effective than vitamins C and E in preventing oxidative damage to cells. The catechins in green tea are also associated with reducing your risk for developing many types of cancer, including bladder, breast, skin, colon, lung and esophageal cancer.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.