Enjoy a cup of warming and healing herbal tea during the holidays. Not only do they taste great, they impart incredible health benefits, too. Here are five of my favorites:
Gingerbread—New research by Wendy Bazilian, RD, DrPH, at Columbia University, found that ginger boosts metabolism and melts fat. Researchers believe the root’s constituents known as gingerols are to credit thanks to their ability to generate heat. Research also shows that ginger also eases migraines, headaches, menstrual cramps, nausea, and regulate blood sugar in diabetics. The Columbia researchers stirred one teaspoon of ginger powder into six ounces of hot water. You will need to stir it frequently to prevent the powder from falling to the bottom of the cup.
Candycane—Peppermint herbal tea with a few drops of the herbal sweetener stevia gives peppermint tea a naturally, refreshing and candycane-like flavor. Not only is it yummy, peppermint tea alleviates nausea, vomiting and digestive upset. Medical anthropologist and author of Healing Herbs & Spices, John Heinerman, PhD, found that peppermint is also potent against viruses, making it a great choice at this time of year when we are around more people and have a tendency to overeat.
Cinnamon—It’s not a tea on its own, but simply stirring a cinnamon stick with your favorite tea or coffee beverage imparts a delicious cinnamon flavor and many health benefits. Cinnamon balances blood sugar, which can help with weight loss, while soothing inflammation and boosting metabolism.
Licorice—Licorice root tea imparts the flavor of black licorice candy while boosting the body’s ability to cope with stress, which there is no shortage of this time of year. Licorice falls into a rare category of herbs known as “adaptogens” because they assist the body with whatever it is dealing with. It also gives the adrenal glands, the body’s main stress-coping glands, a boost. Drink two to three cups a day for the best results. Take a week off after three weeks.
Hibiscus—The brilliant red color of this tea is perfect for the holiday season but it also indicates a high proanthocyanidin content. Proanthocyanidin is a natural plant nutrient that gives foods their rich red to purplish color; it is also a potent anti-cancer compound. According to new research at Tufts University, drinking three cups of hibiscus tea daily can lower blood pressure by 13 points in six weeks (when blood pressure is high). Hibiscus tea sweetened with a few drops of stevia makes a delicious and healing iced tea as well.
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