As if you needed another reason to sip on this cozy beverage, here’s 6 science backed healthy Chai tea benefits to sweeten the deal.
There's nothing cozier than sipping on a warm cup of chai tea and soaking in the spicy sweet flavor and aroma. Who knew that in addition to its delicious taste, there's also some serious health benefits of drinking chai tea.
What is Chai Tea?
Chai tea has been around for an estimated 5,000 years and ironically the word "chai" in Hindi translates to "tea". Tea Tea anyone?
While there are many different ways to brew chai tea, it's generally made up of a mixture of sweet and spicy herbs and seasonings.
The typical ingredients for chai tea can include black tea, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and black peppercorns. Chai can also include star anise, vanilla, nutmeg, or fennel.
Milk and a sweetener such as honey is often added as well for the creamy sweetness often associated with this warming drink.
How Much Caffeine is in Chai Tea?
The caffeine in chai tea comes from the addition of black tea leaves. One tsp of black tea leaves (to make 1 cup of tea) provides around 50mg of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee has around 100mg and a cup of green tea has around 40 mg.
For a chai tea that is decaffeinated, just use decaffeinated black tea leaves in your mixture or purchase a decaf chai tea blend.
Health Benefits of Chai Tea
Chai might be in your coffee rotation for it's delicious flavor and cozy vibes, but did you know that it also offers a slew of health benefits too? As if you needed another reason to love this beverage, the chai tea benefits below might motivate you to brew a cup more often!
It Can Protect Your Heart
Possibly due to the high antioxidant levels in the black tea, 3 or more cups of this stuff daily has been shown to reduce your risk of developing coronary heart disease (1).
Regular consumption of black tea has also been shown to significantly lower triglyceride levels as well as improve LDL/HDL ratios and lowering fasting blood sugars in the general population (2).
The amount needed? Just over 2 tsp infused in 600ml of water drank throughout the day. Making just one of those a chai tea can have an even bigger impact on your heart health.
Other ingredients, like cinnamon, in chai tea have also been shown to benefit your heart.
Consuming ½ to 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon daily could reduce your total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (the kind you want low!), triglycerides, and your blood glucose levels. And not just a little. A study found that daily cinnamon in those amounts can reduce these cardiac risk markers by almost 30% (3).
It Can Lower Your Blood Sugar
Chai tea has a trifecta of ingredients that can help to lower your blood sugar. Cinnamon, ginger, and black tea have been shown to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels in healthy individuals and those with diabetes.
A meta-analysis of 10 different trials found that cinnamon consumption significantly lowered fasting blood glucose, but did not significantly lower A1C levels (15). There's more research to be done to see exactly how cinnamon can impact blood sugar over a longer span of time.
One small study found that 2g (or about ¾ tsp) powdered ginger daily could help to decrease HgbA1C and fasting blood sugars in people with Type 2 Diabetes (4).
Black tea has a number of possible health benefits, and lowering your blood sugar might be one of them. A study found that fasting blood glucose levels were decreased by 18% with drinking 2-3 cups of black tea daily compared to those who had no black tea (2).
Along with exercise, healthy eating patterns, and taking medication as prescribed, chai tea might have what you need to help lower your blood sugar, but be sure to always check with your doctor before adding an herbal remedy to your current regimen.
It can Support Your Immune System
Several of the spices and herbs used to make chai tea have immune boosting properties. Ginger has well-studied antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties by itself(5).
The trio of cinnamon, cardamom, and black tea all have their own antibacterial benefits against varying bacteria (6,7,8). Combine all of these together, and chai tea becomes and immune boosting powerhouse.
It Can Ease Digestion
Ginger is an all-star spice for your tummy. As a carminative, it can help to relieve gas and bloating and also has been found to increase gastric emptying, helping you to digest food more easily.
Ginger is also a well-known aid for nausea and vomiting. Several studies over the past 30+ years have found some benefit from consuming ginger to aid specifically in morning sickness induced by early pregnancy. The best part? Consuming ginger in doses up to 1g are considered safe in pregnancy with no adverse outcomes(9).
Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine which is a digestive superstar. Not only does piperine stimulate the release of digestive enzymes, it can also greatly increase your body's ability to absorb important phytochemicals from plants.
Cardamom has a gastro-protective effect and in animal studies was found to significantly decrease the size of gastric ulcers (10). Historically cardamom has been used to find relief from indigestion, stomach spasms, and nausea.
It can Fight Cancer Cells
Cardamom could have a potent anti-cancer effect. One study found oral cardamom intake to reduce the incidence of skin cancer in mice by a staggering percentage. Only 29% of the mice that were exposed to a cancer causing chemical developed growths on the skin when ingesting oral cardamom (compared to 97% of those that did not take cardamom) (11).
There are discrepancies in studies on black tea consumption and cancer. One reason may be due to the difference in brewing, types, and the content of polyphenol and other active constituents in the tea used.
Be this as it may, several studies have shown promise that daily black tea consumption can lead to a reduction in the development of prostate, ovarian, and colorectal cancers (12).
It can Improve Your Memory & Brain Health
Brain health is an increasingly important topic as a healthy brain keeps us functioning well as we age and our short and long term memories sharp. The caffeine in black tea increases the blood flow to your brain, helping oxygenate brain cells (13).
Cinnamon, a main ingredient in chai tea, has been found to improve insulin resistance throughout the body, and there is some evidence it does this in the brain as well. Amyloid build up in the brain leads to the incredibly devastating Alzheimer's disease. Cinnamon is able to decrease the formation of the precursors to amyloid, meaning good things for the potential prevention of Alzheimer's disease (14).
Chai Tea Safety
Always get the OK from your doctor before taking an herbal supplement or using herbals to supplement your health, especially if you take other medications, have any medical conditions, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Chai tea is generally considered to be safe, especially when consumed in small amounts. Along with every herbal, there are a few precautions that may need to be taken when drinking chai tea.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may need to be cautious when drinking any black tea. Ginger and black pepper can have mild negative side effects for some, such as stomach upset or heartburn.
Want to learn more about herbalism and tea?
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