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6 Reasons Drinking Tea Will Keep You Healthy This Winter

Food

The weather's gotten cooler. Daylight savings time is behind us so we've got longer, darker evenings ahead of us. And winter is coming, along with flu and cold season.

Hot tea in all its varieties is one of winter's compensations.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

But there are compensations. On a blustery day, there's nothing better than curling up on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a good book, an affectionate pet—and a steaming cup of tea. It warms your belly, it warms your hands—and that cup can contain all kinds of great health benefits that can help you get through the winter feeling good.

What are some of the things hot tea can do for you?

1. Tea is a heady brew of hundreds of natural chemicals, many of them beneficial or even essential to health. Foremost among them are polyphenols, a form of antioxidant flavonoids. These are essential for cell regeneration and staving off the effects of aging, including conditions like heart disease, cancer and possibly even Alzheimer's. Tea has been associated with a lower incidence of Parkinson's disease as well. It's not a miracle elixir but it can help strengthen the body's defenses against the ravages of time.

2. Tea has been shown to have an impact on oral health and have cavity-fighting properties. Studies have shown that the polyphenols found in black tea can inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth and help prevent plaque buildup.

3. Although tea does have some caffeine, it doesn't have nearly as much as coffee. So while it can be a mild stimulant and give you a little jolt of energy and mental alertness, it isn't going to put you as much on edge as too much coffee might and it's not as likely to keep you up all night—depending on how much you drink, of course, and how close to bedtime.

4. Different teas—white, green, black and oolong—have different benefits. Green tea, for instance, may build bone density, making your bones stronger. And white and green teas, the least processed, retain more of their flavonoids and have even greater cancer-fighting properties. Herbal infusions are not actually teas, but may have a range of health benefits of their own, including settling an upset stomach, helping you fall asleep or relieving constipation.

5. Tea, especially oolong teas, have been associated with boost in metabolism, leading to potential weight loss. A couple of studies have shown that oolong tea drinkers have smaller waist sizes.

6. Ladling in the refined white sugar will certainly counteract any possible weight loss, and it isn't a good idea for a lot of reasons. But other traditional tea go-withs, like lemon and honey, bring potential health assets of their own. Honey has traces of vitamin and minerals and a bunch of antioxidants of its own. If you feel a sore throat coming on, it coats the throat and soothes it. The vitamin C in lemon is another antioxidant that gives a boost to the immune system and helps fight off seasonal bugs. So there really is something to that prescription of a cup of hot tea with honey and lemon when you've got the winter blahs.

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