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Nine Health Benefits of Unsweetened Iced Tea

10 Feb 2022

Two glasses of golden iced tea on a picknick table in front of a green backdrop, with sliced lemons and mint on the sides

What do you know about unsweet iced tea? It has a crisp flavor that helps keep you cool in the warmer months. It’s a great source of hydration. It’s the second most commonly consumed beverage on the planet (according to the Harvard School of Public Health). It’s low in calories… and it’s usually an acquired taste for those of us who grew up in the South. But it might surprise you to learn that, apart from being refreshing and good for your waistline, unsweetened tea has a couple of remarkable nutritional benefits. From heart health to blood pressure to cognitive function, learn the top benefits of incorporating unsweetened iced tea into your daily routine.

1. Improved Heart Health

Unsweetened iced tea can be a refreshing and beneficial beverage for lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke. The polyphenols (compounds naturally found in plant foods) and flavonoids in unsweetened tea help relax and dilate blood vessels, helping to maintain healthy blood pressure levels. High blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, so regularly consuming unsweetened iced tea can help reduce this risk. A study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals who drank three or more cups of tea per day had a 21% lower risk of having a stroke compared to those who did not drink tea.

2. Weight Loss

Unsweetened iced tea can be a great addition to your weight loss journey. Compared to sugary beverages like soda or fruit juices, unsweetened iced tea is low in calories and natural sugars, making it a healthier alternative. It can also help control food cravings and manage hunger. Plus, when it comes to weight loss, the number of calories you consume plays a crucial role, and by choosing unsweetened iced tea youcan enjoy a refreshing beverage without extra calorie intake. Unsweetened iced tea can also help keep you feeling full, thanks to its liquid volume. Staying properly hydrated is important for weight loss as it can help reduce hunger and prevent overeating. By sipping on unsweetened iced tea throughout the day, you can quench your thirst, feel refreshed, and potentially curb unnecessary snacking.

3. Reduced Risk of Diabetes

Drinking unsweetened iced tea can offer several benefits when it comes to reducing the risk of diabetes. Not only does it help regulate blood sugar levels, the antioxidants present in iced tea can contribute to better overall health and help reduce the risk of diabetes. These antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, have been found to decrease cellular damage and inflammation in the body. By protecting cells from damage, these antioxidants can support healthy insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. According to the National Institute of Health, research also indicates that one of the polyphenols in black tea called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) can inhibit enzymes that break down carbohydrates, slowing down their absorption and stabilizing blood sugar levels, haveing "antiobesity and antidiabetic effects". For individuals with prediabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes, enjoying unsweetened iced tea can be a great option.

4. Improved Brain Function & Performance

The natural caffeine content in unsweetened iced tea can provide a boost in alertness and mental focus without the jitters associated with other caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda. Caffeine acts as a natural stimulant that can enhance mental alertness, increase attention, and improve focus. In addition to caffeine, unsweet tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has calming and relaxing effects. L-theanine works with caffeine to promote a state of focused relaxation without causing drowsiness. This unique combination of caffeine and L-theanine can support enhanced cognitive performance by promoting a balanced state of mental alertness and calm focus.

5. Antioxidant Properties for Skin Protection

The antioxidant properties of unsweetened iced tea can help protect your skin from the harmful effects of UV rays. Sun exposure can lead to the production of free radicals in the skin, which can damage cells and contribute to premature aging. By consuming unsweetened tea regularly, you can increase your intake of antioxidants, which may help neutralize these free radicals and reduce the risk of sun-related skin damage.The polyphenols found in black tea can also improve skin elasticity to help promote a more youthful appearance and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Whether you prefer it cold or steeped with hot water and then chilled, a refreshing cup of unsweetened tea can be a healthy addition to your skincare regimen.

6. Digestive Support and Improved Gut Health

Unsweetened iced tea not only offers numerous benefits for your skin, but it can also provide support for your digestive system and promote improved gut health. The polyphenols found in black tea have been shown to have a positive impact on the balance of bacteria in the gut. Tea's polyphenols act as prebiotics that provide nourishment for beneficial bacteria in the gut. By promoting the growth of these good bacteria, unsweetened tea can help maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which is essential for proper digestion and nutrient absorption.

7. Excellent Source of Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral that is found in your bones, liver, kidneys, and pancreas. According to the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai:“Manganese helps the body form connective tissue, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function.” An 8-ounce serving of unsweetened iced tea provides 520 micrograms of manganese, which is 23 percent of the daily recommended intake for men and 35 percent for women. The manganese in unsweetened iced tea helps maintain the strength of your bones and promotes healthy wound healing. It also activates the enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase, which prevents tissue damage.

8. Fluoride Content

As you may recall from your grade-school health class, fluoride helps build strong bones and teeth. An 8-ounce glass of unsweetened tea that’s brewed with fluoridated water contains about 1 mg of fluoride. (The daily recommended amount, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements, is between 3 to 4mg for adults over the age of 19.) So drinking unsweetened tea is a great way to fight tooth decay and keep your bones strong. Plus, unlike sugary beverages, unsweetened iced tea does not harm tooth enamel or contribute to tooth decay, making it a healthier choice for maintaining oral health.

9. Nutritional Benefits

Unsweetened iced tea is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids (a diverse group of plant compounds found in nearly all fruits and vegetables) that can support overall health and well-being. These chemicals act as powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, consuming foods (or beverages) rich in flavonoids can be beneficial for your metabolic and cardiovascular health.

Conclusion

By incorporating unsweetened iced tea into your daily routine, you can enjoy the numerous health benefits it offers, such as improved heart health, lower blood pressure, weight management, and enhanced cognitive function. So next time you’re looking for the perfect beverage to compliment your healthy Bolay Bol, you might consider a tall glass of our unsweetened iced tea!

References

“Health Benefits of Unsweetened Iced Tea” – SFGATE

“Flavonoids” – Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University

“Healthy Beverage Guidelines” – Harvard School of Public Health

“Manganese” – Mount Sinai

“Fluoride” – National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

"Tea polyphenols for health promotion" – NIH

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