Cold weather, snow and bitter winter winds can make a quiet afternoon sitting in a comfy chair with a book or newspaper appealing. Add a cup of tea and you might have the perfect winter afternoon because benefits of tea on a cold winter’s day are huge. Over the last couple of decades, studies have shown tea offers many well-documented health benefits; but in the winter, tea offers 5 specific benefits that offset indoor inactivity that can wreak havoc on one’s health.
(It’s important to note…these benefits belong to green, white, red and black teas, and not herbal teas. Herbals are not in fact teas, but infusions that bring any benefits related to the herbs. The exception to this, of course, would be if it is, say, a green tea with elderflower – or whichever is blended with it – which then carries the benefits of the tea and the herb.)
Lifts the Mood. Cold days keep one inside. Shorter days and the frequent gray and pastels of winter clouds limit sunshine. Even the hardiest spirit may feel a little down as a winter wears on. A warm cup of tea can boost the mood and even improve focus and attention.
The warmth of a tea cup in one’s hand and the comfort of drinking a warm beverage may be part of the joy. The tea itself contributes many elements that lift the mood too. Some studies indicate EGCG, an active flavonoid in tea (most present in green tea) promotes calm. Caffeine in tea is also associated with a boost in mood, focus and feelings of well-being.
Heart Health. Tea warms the body and warms the heart. It may also bring protective effects for the hear too. The American Heart Association notes a study of 6,212 adults presented at its Epidemiology / Lifestyle 2016 Scientific Sessions found those who drank one to three cups a day enjoyed better cardiovascular health and a lower risk of “major heart-related events”.
Metabolism and Weight Loss. For many, less outdoor time during the winter means less physical activity and a less active metabolism, which can mean weight gain. Studies indicate tea helps support weight management and metabolism. Years ago, researchers noted the catechins in green tea helped keep weight under control. More recently, UCLA researchers report both black and green teas support intestinal health and reduce bacteria associated with weight gain and obesity.
Bone Health. Lack of exercise doesn’t just affect one’s metabolism and weight, it can also affect bone mass, especially in post-menopausal women. Physical activity including walking helps to prompt bone mass, but how many times can one walk around the house? Research has shown that women who drink tea regularly have higher bone mass density, making a warm cup of tea a way to support healthy bones.
Antioxidants. Catechins, especially EGCG, get a lot of attention, but all antioxidants in tea help support the body’s innate healing. Antioxidants clear away free radicals produced when the body creates energy, digests food or does any of its hundreds of other functions. They also help the liver remove environmental toxins the body encounters.
A warm cup of tea can be the perfect remedy to a cold winter’s day. Hopefully, these 5 benefits will make that cup of tea even more comforting. If you take your tea with lemon or honey, you’ll enjoy even more benefits from the nutrients like vitamin C they bring to every cup.
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- Ruxton, C. H. S. (2008), The impact of caffeine on mood, cognitive function, performance and hydration: a review of benefits and risks. Nutrition Bulletin, 33: 15–25. doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-3010.2007.00665.x/full
- Hursel R1, et al. The effects of green tea on weight loss and weight maintenance: a meta-analysis. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Sep;33(9):956-61. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2009.135. Epub 2009 Jul 14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19597519
- Shen C-L, Yeh JK, Cao J, Wang J-S. Green Tea and Bone metabolism. Nutrition research (New York, NY). 2009;29(7):437-456. doi:10.1016/j.nutres.2009.06.008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754215/