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Functional drinks are very much on trend these days. From drinks infused with vitamins for an energy boost to beverages made with added adaptogens for natural stress relief, it isn’t hard to find a chic thirst quencher that comes with some seriously lofty claims. But before you grab that fancy can or bottle, don’t forget about one of the oldest functional drinks out there that’s incredibly simple to make and can be enjoyed every day: true tea.
In fact, as a registered dietitian, I recommend that everyone consider drinking a cup of true tea every day.
What Is True Tea?
Before digging into why I suggest having a cup of true tea every day, it’s important to know what true tea actually is.
We all know that tea comes in a wide variety of options. From chamomile to hibiscus to old-school mint, it can be made from a slew of ingredients. But true teas — think black, green, oolong, dark and white — are the ones that are linked to some major health benefits.
All coming from the warm-weather evergreen named Camellia sinensis, true teas have naturally occurring flavonoids and an amino acid called L-theanine — two components that are linked to a slew of health benefits.
How True Tea Can Support Your Health
The simple act of sipping on tea can add some major satisfaction to your day, thanks to the appealing taste and the coziness that it offers. But did you know that sipping on a hot cup of oolong or an iced cup of green tea is linked to science-backed health benefits?
Making a habit of drinking a cup each day can support the following functions:
Brain Health. Who doesn’t want a sharp mind and a healthy brain? With so many of us juggling so many things in our lives, it is no wonder that a chief complaint many people have is that they feel fried, frazzled and a bit forgetful.
Data shows that drinking true tea can have some impressive effects on brain function, including helping people feel more alert, and have better work performance, creativity and mood. Possibly because of the combo of L-theanine and caffeine, people who drink tea appear to have a better ability to switch tasks and avoid distractions, too.
Amazingly, drinking just a cup or two every day may go as far as reducing the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Heart Health. Cardiovascular disease is the top cause of death for women in the United States. And while many of us know that exercising and eating fruits and veggies can help keep your ticker ticking, drinking tea can be an effective tool for heart health, too.
Some of the effects people may experience when they drink as little as one cup of true tea every day include a reduced risk of experiencing cardiovascular events, stroke and dying from cardiovascular disease.
Immune Health. Thanks to the global pandemic, many of us are more in tune to supporting immune health than ever before — and that includes a habit of packing in the vitamin C, zinc and vitamin D to help give your immune system a boost. But even though tea is known as a drink to sip on once a person already feels under the weather, it also can be something to add to your immune health protocol because data suggest that it can help keep the sickness away.
A phytochemical (called catechins) found in certain teas is linked to reduced infections and a stronger immune system. Tea also has anti-viral capabilities and anti-inflammatory benefits —two factors that can support immune health.
Add a Cup of Tea to Your Healthy Diet
Along with the tried-and-true diet and lifestyle tips that support overall health — like eating a balanced diet, getting quality and adequate sleep, and managing stress — drinking tea every day may offer some unique health benefits in an incredibly low-effort way. Simply swapping out a soda or a cup of coffee with a cup of freshly brewed tea at least once a day has been linked to some seriously good-for-you outcomes, and including this drink is relatively easy to do.
So start an afternoon tea habit or start sipping on an iced tea with your lunch. Or even start your day with a tea smoothie. Your body will get a boost of phytochemicals that may help support your brain, heart and immune health in a totally delicious way.