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National Chai Day 2020: Nutrition Expert lists Benefits of Tea

By Maitrai Agarwal | Mumbai

Updated: 21 September, 2020 10:00 IST

This National Chai Day, Nutritionist and Wellness Coach Avantii Deshpaande tells us benefits of tea and the best time to drink it

National Chai Day is celebrated on September 21, but considering the love Indians have for tea (chai), can there really be one single day for ‘chai’? We are among the largest producers of tea worldwide, most of which is consumed domestically. Be it mornings or evenings, winter or monsoon, our days are incomplete without a cup of tea.

However, studies suggest that caffeine (present in tea) should not be consumed on an empty stomach, as it may trigger acid reflux and cause digestive issues. We asked Nutritionist and Wellness Coach Avantii Deshpaande what was the best time to drink tea, "The best time to consume tea is mid-morning after breakfast as this is the time when your digestive system is active and functions properly. Caffeine present in tea can also increase your energy level and keep you active throughout the day. Avoid drinking tea at night after dinner, because it will interfere with your body clock and keep you awake."

Elaborating upon the importance of tea in India, Deshpaande added, "Traditionally, Indians used to drink tea as medicine since tea contains spices like holy basil, black pepper, mint, mulethi, cardamom, ashwagandha, ginger, etc. which can fight cold and cough." However, people are becoming increasingly aware of the copius amounts of sugar and caffeine they consume via tea. Several have shifted to the healthier versions of chai-green and black teas to keep their sugar intake in check. Avantii lists down 5 benefits of green and black teas:

Increases Metabolism

Caffeine present in green tea improves physical performance by mobilizing fatty acids from adipose tissue for generating energy.

Contains Bioactive Compound

Tea naturally contains polyphenols, including catechin, theaflavins, and thearubigins. Catechin in the form of epigallocatechin-3-gallate is present in green tea. Black tea contains all the polyphenols which act as antioxidants. Polyphenols are the type of antioxidants that prevent cell damage by fighting against free radical. They also help in reducing inflammation.

Improve Brain Functioning

Tea helps in boosting brain function because it contains a stimulant called caffeine. Caffeine present in both green tea and black tea is comparatively lesser than coffee but enough to produce an effect. Caffeine is known to improve various aspects of brain-like mood swings, memory, increases concentration, and reduces reaction time. “Green tea contains another stimulant- L-theanine, which is a type of amino acid. L-theanine has an anti-anxiety effect as it can cross the brain barrier and thus increases the activity of inhibitory neurotransmitters,” said Avantii.

May Prevent Type Two Diabetes

Type 2 diabetics are mainly affected by the elevation of the blood sugar level, which may cause insulin resistance or inability to produce insulin. Many studies have shown that green tea improves insulin sensitivity and reduces blood sugar levels. An antioxidant-theaflavins present in black tea reduces the risk of diabetes obesity and elevated cholesterol. Black tea is a great non-sweetened beverage that can help improve the use of insulin and reduce blood sugar.

May Prevent Cardiovascular Disease

“The main risk factor for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol. When there is too much LDL in the body, it can build up in the arteries and cause waxy deposits called plaques. This can lead to problems like heart failure or stroke. Green tea reduces LDL and total cholesterol from the blood and reduces the risk of CVD. Black tea contains a group of antioxidants called flavonoids that combat many risk factors in case of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated triglyceride levels, and obesity,” explained Avantii.

Substitutes

Remember there are tea variants such as ginger tea, chamomile tea, and mint tea which contain no caffeine. For those who might want to experiment with other healthy drinks, here are a few beverages you could give a shot:

1. Buttermilk
2. Fresh Fruit or Vegetable juices
3. Kombucha
4. Coconut water
5. Lukewarm water with lemon or fenugreek seeds

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First Published: 21 September, 2020 01:32 IST

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