Weekly Wellness: Tea Time

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COLUMBIA - You're trying really hard to stop drinking soft drinks. You don't really care for water - it's bland, boring, and tasteless. What do you do? Well, there's always tea. And you might even find more benefits to drinking tea than just the flavor.

Teas have long been praised for their health benefits. Even Web MD provides research about the health benefits of tea: Studies have found that some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; encourage weight loss; lower cholesterol; and bring about mental alertness. Tea also appears to have antimicrobial qualities.

There is a new list of the "5 Best Teas for Weight Loss" by the folks who bring you the popular "Eat This, Not That" series. They have reviewed the characteristics and qualities of these teas and have tested their effects. They suggest that each of the teas has its own individual, magic properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to melting the fat that's stored in your fat cells.

They suggest that you should stick to 3 - 4 cups (or tea bags) of tea each day. They also suggest (as would I) to stick to the kind you brew yourself (not the kind from a bottle) to avoid extra additives and sweeteners.

Here is their complete list:
DRINK THIS: Lipton, Yogi
BECAUSE IT: Unlocks your fat cells

Before a workout, turbocharge the fat-blasting effects by sipping a cup of green tea. In a recent 12-week study, participants who combined a daily habit of 4-5 cups of green tea each day with a 25-minute sweat session lost an average of two more pounds than the non tea-drinking exercisers.

Thank the compounds in green tea called catechins, fat belly crusaders that blast adipose tissue by triggering the release of fat from fat cells (particularly in the belly), and then speeding up the liver's capacity for turning that fat into energy.

DRINK THIS: Bigelow, Stash
BECAUSE IT: Boosts metabolism

Oolong, a Chinese name for "black dragon," is a light, floral tea that, like green tea, is also packed with catechins, which help to promote weight loss by boosting your body's ability to metabolise lipids (fat).

A study in the Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine found that participants who regularly sipped oolong tea lost six pounds over the course of the six-week time period.

DRINK THIS: Tazo, Teavana
BECAUSE IT: Wards off the munchies

Fill a big teacup with soothing peppermint tea, and sniff yourself skinny! While certain scents can trigger hunger (a trick Cinnabon figured out long ago, others can actually suppress your appetite.

One study published in the Journal of Neurological and Orthopaedic Medicine found that people who sniffed peppermint every two hours lost an average of 5 pounds a month. (Although tea is relatively low in caffeine - about 25% of what a cup of coffee delivers - decaffeinated varieties are great to have on hand for a soothing bedtime treat.)

DRINK THIS: Twinings, The Republic of Tea, Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime
BECAUSE IT: Prevents new fat cells from forming

White tea is dried naturally, often in sunlight, making it the least processed and richest source of antioxidants among teas (as much as three times as many polyphenols as green tea!).

A study published in the journal Nutrition and Metabolism showed that white tea can simultaneously boost lipolysis (the breakdown of fat) and block adipogenesis (the formation of fat cells) due to high levels of ingredients thought to be active on human fat cells.

DRINK THIS: Celestial Seasonings, Harney & Sons
BECAUSE IT: Regulates fat-storage hormones

Rooibos tea is made from the leaves of the "red bush" plant, grown exclusively in the small Cederberg region of South Africa, near Cape Town. What makes rooibos tea particularly good for your belly is a unique and powerful flavonoid called Aspalathin.

Research shows this compound can reduce stress hormones that trigger hunger and fat storage and are linked to hypertension, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

I'm certainly not trying to "teas" you. Are you curious as to whether or not these teas will really work? Well, it certainly can't hurt to try. What have you got to lose?