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Health Benefits of Tea

5 Most Surprising Reasons to Drink Tea

By , Caring.com contributing editor
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Tea is hot: Americans downed more than 3 billion gallons of it in 2010. Worldwide, tea is the most widely consumed beverage after water. And a daily cup or two confers surprising health benefits, research shows.

"There's been a lot of research about tea's beneficial compounds," says integrative nutritionist Beth Reardon of Duke University. "For example, it's one of the richest sources of antioxidants you can consume."

Here are five tea benefits worth lifting your teacup to:

How Tea Can Help You Lose Weight

How it works: Compounds in the Camellia sinensis plant (from which comes all black, green, and white tea) provide a mild metabolic boost that amounts to the body burning an extra 45 to 50 calories a day, Reardon says. "It sounds small, but over just a year, that could easily add up to five or more pounds."

What's more, in 2011 Japanese researchers identified two tea compounds, theaflavins and thearubigins, that slow weight gain in rats fed a high-fat diet -- though only when there was no milk added (proteins in cow's milk interfered with weight control). Chinese researchers have identified another compound in tea called catechins, which also contribute to weight loss.

Here's one other way drinking tea contributes to weight loss: Without additives like dairy or sugar, tea is a zero-calorie substitute for sodas, juice, or sugared drinks. And the more tea you sip, the fuller you feel.

Tea note: Neither herbal teas -- which are made from infusions of fruits, leaves, roots, grains, and flavorings -- or green tea capsules have been shown to contribute to weight loss.