Do you prefer coffee or tea with breakfast? Globally tea is chosen three times as often as coffee but Americans tend to prefer coffee. Still, in the U.S. 159 million Americans are daily hot tea drinkers. Our English cousins drink tea with breakfast in addition to pausing for mid-afternoon “tea time.” Mick Jagger said, “I got nasty habits; I take tea at three.” I can recall when I was working at a London hospital many years ago, the doctors and nurses would routinely pause at 4 PM for tea. People in Japan even have a ceremony devoted to the beverage. Perhaps Mick and the others are on to something!
Tea, especially green tea, contains phytonutrient compounds that are known for their antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic benefits although the addition of milk may reduce tea’s antioxidant benefit. Previous research has suggested that there was a slight weight loss benefit associated with tea drinking. Regular consumption of green tea enhanced 24-hour energy expenditure and improved body composition by reducing abdominal fat.
In a new, larger study, the tea consumption of 5,681 adults participating in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was assessed. The participants’ body composition was measured with dual x-ray absorptiometry (DXA). In most of the previous studies the researchers focused on green tea but the current study included black, yellow as well as green hot tea consumption. Iced tea and herbal teas were not studied.
Men who consumed between a quarter cup and a full cup of hot tea each day had less total body fat and less trunk (central) fat compared with non-tea drinkers. The differences were small, (less than two percent), but they were strongest for older men, ages 45 – 69. There were no age differences for women. Female tea drinkers had lower total body fat (2.3 percent) and trunk fat (3.3 percent) compared with women who didn’t drink hot tea. Drinking more than a cup of hot tea was also associated with a lower prevalence of diabetes for both sexes.
The researchers suggest brewing tea for four minutes or more at temperatures greater than 176 degrees (80 ℃) to get the optimal benefit. Although you shouldn’t expect dramatic improvement, having hot black, green, or yellow tea every day might help to reduce body fat.