“If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; If you are depressed, it will cheer you; If you are excited, it will calm you.” ― William Gladstone
We Britons love our tea. On average, we consume 2.74 kg. per person, per year. What’s not to love? It’s delicious, relaxing, and good for you. Worldwide, people consume three billion tonnes of tea leaves per annum.
Three. Billion. Tonnes!
I need to sit down for a moment with a cup of tea.
Tea is generally recognized as a simple, delicious, low calorie drink that rejuvenates and restores. It is most often taken at the beginning or toward the end of the day when you need a bit of a pick-me-up. Some experts estimate that aound two billion people worldwide start their day with a cup of tea.
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In addition to tea time being a delightful pause during a harried day, there are many health and weight loss claims associated with drinking tea, though it’s sometimes hard to separate the leaves from the stems, so to speak.
For instance, there is a lot of firm scientific evidence that various forms of tea can help fight against developing different forms of cancer, high cholesterol, and diabetes.
There is also anecdotal talk about tea as a weight loss agent and metabolism booster. This is less well documented in scientific journals. The most hard core evidence is the most obvious, tea is a low calorie drink that fills your stomach, making you less prone to hunger pangs. If it is cafffeinated, tea may give you a bit of a zip in your step so that you’re moving about more and burning a few extra calories.
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All tea contains antioxidants called catechins, which are different than the antioxidents found in vegetables and fruits. Of all of the teas, green tea has higher catechin counts. This component may help metabolize fat cells. Fat, especially belly fat, is widely thought to be a strong indicator of increased cancer and heart disease risk.
Research on humans suggests that regular consumption of three cups of green tea per day might be a helpful component of a weight loss or maintenance program. Incidentally, it also appears to help rats stay slender.
Lemon tea contains d-limonene, a delicious-smelling substance that comes from the rinds of citrus fruit and is used to add citrus scents and flavors in commercial products. Medically, d-limonen may be useful to treat chronic heartburn, and some studies are investigating its use in cancer treatment.
As far as weight loss, if you injest too much it may act as a diuretic. So if you like to do things the hard way, then yes, drinking a lot of lemon tea might make you lose some water weight. Unfortunately, you’ll also get dehydrated and end up in A&E.
If you love lemon tea, there is no reason not to enjoy an occasional cup. But don’t count on an excess of it as an effective weight loss strategy.
The amount of the antioxident catechins present in each serving of tea will boil (ha-ha) down to how it has been processed. Generally speaking, white tea is one of the less processed teas, so it conntains more catechins. The high catechin count might prevent the formation of new fat cells and trigger your body to use fat that it has already stored. Again, scientific evidence is sketchy here.
Oolong tea is also thought to metabolize fats in the body with the help of catechins. A study in China suggested that people who consumed oolong tea lost six pounds in six weeks. But again, if you’re keeping your stomach filled with anything of a low caloric value, you’re not going to be reaching for the snacks.
Peppermint tea is well known for its delicious aroma. But can it also help with weight loss? A research study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine suggested that people who sniffed peppermint every other hour lost an average of five pounds per month.
Sadly, the only surefire way to lose weight is to use more calories than you consume (I say as I stuff a granola snack in my mouth). If sipping a moderate amount of milk-free and sugar-free tea helps you feel centered during your stressful day, and keeps your stomach from growling, then that’s great! Drinking low calorie tea can also help displace our cravings for sugary drinks.
But drinking tea is not a panacea, it can only do so much. At some point we need to push away from our desks and get our blood moving. “Move it, move it!” as King Julian said in Madagascar.