If the rising cost and shrinking size of your daily coffee is no longer "economically conducive," take another step towards becoming younger and thinner by making the switch to a cheaper, healthier alternative. Start thinking tea this winter. Hot or cold, this age-old beverage is a most beneficial weight loss and anti-aging tool.
Tea is packed with nutrients, namely polyphenols, which have powerful antioxidant properties that can improve your overall health. What's more, tea has absolutely no calories (if you don't drink it with milk or sugar) and can stimulate digestion, speed up your metabolism, cleanse the body, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and give you lots of energy. Not only does it get you in the habit of drinking more fluids, you are simultaneously flushing out of your system the toxic foods your body is still hanging onto. These are all necessary for losing weight and reversing every aging part of your body.
The benefits of drinking tea add up fast, and if you get into the habit, will improve your health for years to come. Studies have shown that tea drinkers, those who consistently drink two cups or more a day, have:
• A lower risk of cancer
• Healthier intestinal flora, which inhibits bacteria
• A lower risk of heart disease
• Improved their glucose tolerance, preventing diabetes
• Continuously detoxified their liver
Different Teas, Different Benefits
The main types of tea (white, black, green, and oolong) all come from the same plant (Camellia sinensis). The differences in color and taste result from the degree of fermentation the tea leaves undergo after harvesting. The fermentation, in turn, determines the type and amounts of healthful polyphenols that are present. The darker teas have the greatest concentrations of polyphenols. Green and black teas have ten times the amount of antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, the other most common sources of polyphenols in our diet.
The most significant nutritional research has focused on green teas. The high caffeine content in green tea has been found to increase metabolism, decrease appetite, and provide more energy for exercise. Green tea may reduce the absorption of dietary fats by approximately 40%. It may also help reduce the storage of body fat by inhibiting the effects of insulin, so that dietary sugars are sent directly to the muscles for instant use, instead of being stored.
However, one 2003 study from Japan's University of Tokushima School of Medicine reports that oolong tea has greater metabolism-boosting properties that green tea. Oolong tea may increase the number of calories burned by 10%, while green tea was shown to have a metabolic increase of 4%. Another Japanese study showed that oolong tea is able to reduce the absorption of fats, so that more dietary fat is passed through the body as waste instead of being digested. Oolong tea has about half the caffeine of green tea, so if you are caffeine sensitive or like to drink tea in the evening, it might be a better option. Remember, decaffeinated teas are just as healthy as their high-test cousins: the polyphenols are not removed with the caffeine.
Herbal teas are not officially teas at all, and should really be called "herbal infusions" or "tisanes." They are not made from the same plant as regular teas: instead they are brewed from the roots, stems, bark, leaves and flowers of other plants. Herbal teas are naturally decaffeinated and each have their own unique taste as well as their own set of reported health benefits. For example, rooibos herbal tea from South Africa is gaining popularity because of its pure nutrients. This tea is packed with vitamin C, and 50% more antioxidants than green tea.
Create Your Own "Designer" Teas
Drinking tea with a slice of fresh lemon adds even more nutrients to your beverage. The same is true if you take your tea with low-fat milk. But don't add sugar! If you need a sweetened taste, make a wise choice with a flavored herbal tea, like apple or berry, or add Truvia and PureVia, two new FDA-approved stevia-based products which are natural--and zero-calorie--sweeteners.
And stay away from bottled "designer" tea. Studies have shown that bottled teas have antioxidant levels that are 10 to 100 times lower than those in fresh brewed tea, and many of them are filled with sugar. Instead of drinking bottled teas, I brew it myself and often combine two or three different types of teas to get the most color, and therefore the most benefit. For example, I brew a pot that makes 3-4 cups, and I combine red rooibos, blueberry, and green tea.
There are many other great combinations. Here are some of my favorites:
• Green tea, peach, and black cherry
• Green tea, orange spice, and cinnamon apple
• Oolong tea, orange spice
• Lemongrass green tea, and rooibos
• Green tea, mint, chamomile
Tea Strategy for Weight Loss
Whichever type of tea you prefer, you need to drink a cup of tea, or more, after each meal to achieve the greatest affect. By doing so, I believe that you can lose 5% more weight. Follow these suggestions for best results.
• Breakfast: within two hours of waking, drink green tea after breakfast
• Mid-morning: keep energy going with a cup of flavored black tea
• Lunch: follow this meal with a strong cup of oolong tea
• Mid-day: improve digestion with a cup of peppermint tea
• Dinner: no later than three hours before bedtime, drink a cup of white tea
• Before Bed: A cup of chamomile tea to help you relax before bedtime.