Superfood Series: Tea!

Discovering a low-calorie, heart healthy beverage can lead to your head spinning. Let me make it easy for you. Try tea!

 

Tea contains various heart healthy components that include antioxidants and polyphenols. Antioxidants prevent cell damage and promote arterial health by preventing free radicals from harming your body. Several studies have suggested the beneficial impact of polyphenols on cardiovascular disease. Polyphenols include flavonols and catechins, which are nutritional components naturally found in food. In particular, moderate intakes of green tea may protect against heart disease due to the high concentration of catechins. More long-term studies should be conducted on humans to verify these findings.   

 

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but caffeine stimulates your nervous system and can lead to an increase in your heart rate if consumed in high doses. However, adverse effects have not been associated with consumption of 300 milligrams or less of caffeine per day. The amount of caffeine in tea depends on the preparation method and the type of tea. A cup of tea may contain 6 to 110 milligrams (mg) of caffeine with black tea having the highest concentrations of 23 to 110 mg, followed by oolong tea with 12 to 55 mg, green tea with 8 to 36 mg and white tea with 6 to 25 mg.

Limit yourself to three cups of caffeinated tea per day or consider the decaffeinated options. You could always mix caffeinated and decaffeinated teas to decreased the amount of caffeine per serving.

In addition to providing nutrition, tea is virtually calorie-free! There is a wide range of teas that our taste buds are sure to love. From green tea to fruity teas, branch out and try new flavors. Tea is delicious when served hot or cold. Throw in a little bit of lemon, lavender or mint to add flavor. To satisfy your sweet tooth, add half a teaspoon of sugar, honey or artificial sweetener. Watch your portion sizes because sweeteners add empty calories to your diet. Have fun experimenting with teas, and drink up!

 By Laura Oliver, RD 

References

  1. Di Castelnuovo, A., et al. “Consumption of Cocoa, Tea and Coffee and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease.” European Journal of Internal Medicine 23.1 (2012): 15-25. Print.
  2. Mak, J. C. “Potential Role of Green Tea Catechins in various Disease Therapies: Progress and Promise.” Clinical and experimental pharmacology & physiology 39.3 (2012): 265-73. Print.
  3. Zywienia I. Z., et al. “Caffeine–common ingredient in a diet and its influence on human health.” Rocz Panstw Zakl Hig. 63.2 (2012): 141-7. Print.
  4. Picture courtesy of www.gourmandeinthekitchen.com via www.healthyaperture.com, Posts for Syndication
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