Most Brits are well aware that there’s nothing more restorative than a nice cuppa. But what are the health benefits of tea? Pop the kettle on, we’re going to investigate.
Tea has been around for millennia, and has been popular in the UK since the early 1700s. However, it has been sipped in its native China for many thousands of years and has always been said to possess multiple health benefits.
Tea contains substances that have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer and other health conditions. There is also some evidence that drinking tea regularly reduces the risk of breast, prostate, ovarian and endometrial cancers.
Tea leaves contain chemicals called polyphenols, in particular catechins and epicatechins, which are antioxidants boasting major health benefits. Green tea undergoes a fermentation process which boosts its polyphenol levels. Black and red teas contain them, too, but they are present in lower amounts.
Antioxidants attach to and neutralise oxidants, chemicals produced by cells as a by product. These oxidants can harm the body if they are not neutralised: they can damage arteries and contribute to cardiovascular disease. And as runners, we need to protect and strengthen our hearts as much as possible.
Lower risk of diabetes
It is also thought that tea may help regulate blood sugar levels: in the long term it seems to lower the risk of developing diabetes. This echoes research showing that polyphenols can help us regulate our blood sugar levels.
Although coffee is higher in caffeine than tea, the caffeine content in tea is not negligible, coming in at around 22-74mg compared with 80-175mg found in a cup of coffee. If you’re in need of an energy boost, drink a cuppa an hour before you head out for a run and it will perk you right up.
Although caffeine is a diuretic, as long as you drink water as well as tea the experts say there’s no need to worry about dehydration from the average cup of char. Though you may want to factor in a loo stop along your run if you’ve been knocking back the tea.
Tea also contains theanine, which reduces stress, boosts your mood and improves cognitive performance. So, if you’re injured and miss running for its amazing ability to combat stress and improve even the blackest of moods, or you've just come in from a hard workout and need a rest, put the kettle on – a brew makes everything feel better!