Did you know that June is National Iced Tea Month? The origin of tea dates back at least 5,000 years and today over 158 million Americans drink tea according to the Tea Association of the USA. From reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer to aiding in weight loss, tea has been praised for its potential health benefits. While there are health benefits to drinking tea, some have more scientific backing than others. Take a look:
- Improve Heart Health- Scientific studies show the flavonoids in tea help reduce blood clotting and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, there is strong evidence that suggests drinking tea can help lower blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
- Aid in Weight Loss – There are scientific studies that support tea as a weight loss beverage. However these studies use tea extracts, opposed to brewed tea. The results may not be directly applicable to brewed tea consumed at home.
- Reduce the Risk of Cancer – Scientific studies suggest drinking tea may play a role in cancer prevention in animals. However, results are limited in human studies. The National Cancer Institute does not recommend for or against using tea for cancer risk reduction.
While there may be limited scientific evidence that supports drinking tea to reduce the risk of cancer or aid in weight loss, it is a low calorie beverage that can be incorporated in your diet to add variety and replace high calorie, sugar filled beverages.
Now before you go and grab a bottle of iced tea, be sure to check the nutrition label! An average 16 ounce bottle of iced tea contains between 25 – 40 grams of sugar. That equals 6 1/4 – 10 teaspoons of sugar per bottle which can add 100 – 160 additional calories from sugar to your daily intake. Be sure to choose unsweetened varieties and flavor it yourself with fresh fruit slices. From raspberries to lemons to strawberries, the flavor options are endless. My personal favorite fruit to add iced tea is peaches.
You can find unsweetened varieties of iced tea at your local grocery store, or better yet try brewing it yourself at home. When you brew your own iced tea you have more control over the type of tea you use and the ingredients that you add. Try brewing a large batch of tea at the beginning of the week and store it in your refrigerator. Add sliced fruit and let the tea infuse. Over the course of the week you will have a tasty and refreshing beverage that can help cool you down and will not add extra calories to your day.