Black and green teas are well-known and well-studied (there are countless studies affirming the metabolism- and brain-boosting effects of coffee’s lesser-caffeinated rivals). But herbal teas on the other hand are still somewhat of a mystery. The truth is, they’re not even technically considered tea, they’re infusions of plants comprised of various nutritional characteristics. Popular herbal brews include chamomile, peppermint, hibiscus, rooibos – but are they good for health?
So far, science has mostly researched the health benefits on animals, while human testing is still underway. But even if our understanding of herbal tea’s effect on humans is still a work in progress, anecdotal evidence suggests that some people do feel comfort and relaxation from tea’s aroma and flavors. Diane L. McKay, PhD, assistant professor of nutrition at Tufts University, published a clinical trial of hibiscus tea’s effect on humans. Subjects consumed three cups a day for six weeks, resulting in significantly lower blood pressure in people with mildly elevated levels. Other herbal infusions, such as chamomile and peppermint contain antioxidants and have antimicrobial qualities that may benefit oral health. In animals, chamomile has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-lowering effects while peppermint eases gastrointestinal upset.
Take a look at various herbs infused in tea and their perceived benefits for health. Try swapping out your cup of coffee or English breakfast with these low- to no-caffeine herbal teas a few times a week.
Photo: The Bronx Journal