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Cleveland Clinic dietitian Beth Czerwony explains how different teas offer different benefits.
“The humble tea plant – a shrub known as Camellia sinensis – has long supplied an answer to some ailments,” she says.
Best for overall health: Green tea
“Green tea is the champion when it comes to offering health benefits,” says Czerwony.
“It’s the Swiss Army knife of teas. It covers a lot of territory.”
A medical literature review offers a snapshot of those benefits, she adds, linking the consumption of green tea to:
- Cancer prevention
- Fighting heart disease
- Lower blood pressure
- Anti-inflammatory treatment
- Weight loss, and
- Lower cholesterol.
According to her, the healing power of green tea is linked to catechin – an antioxidant compound found in tea leaves.
It helps protect cells from damage caused by out-of-hand free radicals reacting with other molecules in the body.
Studies show that ginger naturally combats nausea, making it a go-to remedy for dealing with morning sickness during pregnancy, notes Czerwony.
Ginger also offers proven digestive benefits by helping the body move food from the stomach to continue its digestive tract journey.
Speeding up that process works to calm indigestion and ease stomach distress, she explains.
“Ginger relaxes your gut, which can make you a lot more comfortable if you’re having tummy trouble,” she says.
Alternatively, peppermint tea can also serve as an aid against indigestion.
“Peppermint, however, is best for issues lower in your gut.
“It can actually aggravate higher- up issues such as acid reflux,” she advises.
The anti-inflammatory powers in herbal teas can help loosen airways tightened by conditions such as asthma, says Czerwony.
She recommends herbal teas featuring turmeric, cinnamon or ginger as a way to keep the air flowing.
As an added benefit, drinking a hot cup of herbal tea can also help clear congestion by loosening mucus, she says.
“Menthol packs quite the punch when it comes to fighting a cold – and peppermint tea is packed with menthol,” says Czerwony,
“It really kicks up your immune system.”
She says peppermint tea works well to relax sore throat muscles, relieve nasal congestion, and even reduce a fever.
“It’s also loaded with antibacterial and antiviral properties to give you a healthy boost.”
She also suggests trying echinacea, hibiscus or elderberry tea when someone does not feel well.
The daisy-like chamomile plant contains apigenin, an antioxidant compound and snooze inducer, explains Czerwony.
She says apigenin attaches itself to receptors in the brain and works to reduce anxiety, building a peaceful calm that leads to drowsiness.
Valerian root tea is also a good option, she says.
But what about black teas?
Black tea offers many of the same benefits as green tea, which makes sense when you consider they’re made from the same plant leaves, says Czerwony.
She explains why are they different: “Leaves used to make black tea are allowed to age and oxidize, turning them brown or black.
“Green tea leaves are processed earlier when they’re still green. Hence, the name.
“Black tea generally has more caffeine than green tea – a key selection factor if you’re concerned about limiting your caffeine intake,” she says.
“There are so many teas to choose from,” she concludes.
“Try different varieties and see what works best for you.”