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4 Health-Boosting Teas to Drink Right Now

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Did you know that tea is the second most consumed drink in the world (water is first)? And for good reason: Created from the leaves of the Camellia plant, tea is loaded with antioxidants that have been shown to help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of cancer, among other health-promoting benefits. But not all teas are created equal.

Herbal teas (a popular choice) aren’t really teas at all. They’re created with herbs, roots, spices, and flowers, so their antioxidant benefits are negligible compared to tea made from the Camellia plant. With the help of Athletes’ Performance nutritionist Amanda Carlson-Phillips, we’ve put together a list of four teas to add to your diet right now.

White Tea

White tea comes from the immature tea leaves that are picked just before the buds open. The lack of chlorophyll in the leaves gives them a silvery white shade. The least processed of all teas, white tea leaves are simply steamed. Due to its minimal processing, white tea has more polyphenols—antioxidants that fight and kill cancer-causing cells—than any other tea. White tea also has less caffeine—15 milligrams per serving—compared to 20 milligrams in green tea and 40 milligrams in black tea.

The Benefits: This tea is touted for its cancer- and age-fighting benefits. It has also been linked to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, a healthier heart, and a reduction in dental plaque. A 2009 study in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism found that white tea may help encourage weight loss due to high levels of phytochemicals.

Green Tea

Green tea is made from unfermented leaves that are steamed (like the white tea). While white tea has a light, sweet flavor, green tea is recognized for its prominent “grassy” taste. There are several common varieties of green tea including Matcha, Hyson, Sencha, and Dragon Well.

The Benefits: Packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, green tea has been linked to cancer prevention, healthy teeth and gums, increased immunity, and weight loss. A study in the December 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking several cups of green tea a day decreased the symptoms of depression in men by 34 percent and by 39 percent in women. Drinking brewed green tea is the most effective way to get EGCG, an ingredient known to speed up metabolism. Drinking three cups of green tea a day can increase metabolism by up to 10 percent.

Oolong Tea

Although it has only recently become popular in the United States, Oolong tea has long been a favorite choice in the Orient. The semi-fermented, Oolong tea is a dark reddish color and has a flavor similar to green tea (without the grassy taste). While the oxidation process to make this tea diminishes some of the health benefits, Oolong tea is still a healthy option.

The Benefits: This tea is loaded with antioxidants and has been shown to help lower cholesterol, aid weight loss, and strengthen bones. It’s also been used to treat digestive disorders. While not as highly researched as the other tea varieties, a study published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine found that drinking 2 to 3 cups of oolong tea a day led to a 10 percent increase in metabolism in women.

Black Tea

The most commonly served tea in the United States, black tea is partially dried, crushed and fermented. The three types are Darjeeling, orange pekoe, and a variety of breakfast teas.

The Benefits: Black tea has low amounts of caffeine, which helps to promote blood flow in the brain without over-stimulating the heart. It also sharpens mental focus and fights tooth decay. Packed with thyophylline, black tea improves cholesterol levels and helps the body maintain blood pressure levels. A 2009 study in the Journal of Food and Science found that polysaccharides in black tea had high glucose-inhibiting properties, which could be beneficial in the fight to control diabetes.

Tags: Beverages, Health, Disease