Iced tea can be a diet beverage, providing zero calories and a wealth of fat-burning antioxidants. You can also enjoy iced tea with the sweet taste of sugar without the calories – 16 per tsp. – if you drink diet iced tea. But bottled varieties lack many of the weight loss and other health benefits of home-brewed iced tea.
Four Teas From a Single Plant
If you order iced tea in a restaurant, you will probably be served black tea, the most common of the natural teas. But you can brew and ice any of the other three teas derived from the Camellia senensis plant — green, oolong and white teas — and enjoy the metabolism-boosting benefits of true tea. Beverages from herbs such as ginger, senna and rooibos are popular weight-loss drinks, but do not contain the health properties of natural teas.
Iced Tea and Caffeine
Iced tea provides caffeine, a well-known stimulant and appetite suppressant. Black tea contains the most and white tea least amount of caffeine. You’ll get 40 mg to 120 mg in 8 oz. of iced black tea, compared to 95 mg to 200 mg of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Pregnant women should limit their daily caffeine intake to no more than 100 mg of caffeine to avoid the risk of adversely affecting their babies’ birth weights, according to the “British Medical Journal.” If you can tolerate small amounts of caffeine, green tea contains 26 mg per cup. Or, you could drink decaffeinated tea, which contains 2 mg to 10 mg per cup.
Iced Tea and Weight Loss
At least 15 scientific studies have linked tea antioxidants to weight loss, according to the “Los Angeles Times.” You need to consume 300 mg or more daily of tea antioxidants in order to shed pounds. The antioxidants, which may be listed on product labels as catechins, EGCG, epigallocatechin gallate, or flavonoids, activate fat-burning enzymes in your body. You would need to drink three glasses of freshly brewed green iced tea or 10 glasses of strong black tea to attain 300 mg of catechins.
Iced Tea Antioxidants
Tea antioxidants are easily destroyed by oxidation before picking and processing afterward. Green tea contains 3.5 times as many catechins as black tea because it spends less time on the vine. If you brew tea yourself from loose leaves, you will retain most of the remaining catechins. Tea bags, flavored teas, decaffeinated teas and bottled teas contain fewer antioxidants. You would need to drink 20 cups of decaffeinated black iced tea or 25 cups of bottled diet green iced tea to attain 300 mg of catechins, the amount needed for weight loss.
The antioxidants in iced tea provide additional health benefits that make the beverage a wise addition to your diet. Drinking five cups of iced green tea may also help you live longer, according to “The Globe and Mail.” A study published in the “Journal of the American Medical Society” in September 2006 found that green tea consumption reduced deaths from heart attacks and strokes by 30 percent. The study, led by Japanese researcher Shinichi Kuriyami, followed the health of 40,000 people for 11 years. Including iced tea in your diet may also help to lower your cholesterol and blood sugar and protect you against some forms of cancer, according to the “Daily Mail.”
- USDA: Calories, Sugar
- “The Washington Post”; Give Green Tea a Try, but Get a Handle on the Perfect Brew for You; Robert L. Wolke; April 25 2007
- Mayo Clinic: Caffeine Content in Coffee, Tea, Soda and More
- BMJ.com: Maternal Caffeine Intake During Pregnancy and Risk of Fetal Growth Restriction; a Large Prospective Observational Study
- “Los Angeles Times”; Slim Chance Green Tea Can Burn Fat Off; Chris Woolston; Aug. 16, 2010