Health Benefits of Unsweetened Iced Tea

When it comes to a healthy beverage that will satisfy your thirst, look no further than unsweetened iced tea. The Harvard School of Public Health rates tea as one of the healthiest beverages. There are different teas you can consume for health benefits. These benefits may include essential nutrients that are being studied for their value in possibly preventing heart disease and diabetes. Due to tea's natural flavor, you can go without the calorie-rich sugar and cream.

A Low-Calorie Drink

Unsweetened ice tea is naturally low in calories, which can help you lose weight and reduce your sugar intake. By replacing high-calorie drinks such as soda, sweetened ice tea and cola with unsweetened ice tea, you can cut your daily caloric intake and lose weight. For instance, 12 ounces of sweetened ice tea can have up to 125 calories, while the unsweetened equivalent has 2 calories.

Rich in Antioxidants

Iced tea -- whether it's made from green or black tea -- is high in free-radical fighting antioxidants. Tea antioxidants help strengthen bones and offer protection against fractures. These antioxidants found in green tea may also protect you from several cancers, including breast, skin, prostate and lung cancer, according to Harvard Health Publications. If you're wondering which type of iced tea is the most healthful to consume, a 2001 study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that black tea antioxidants called theaflavins are equally as effective as catechins, an antioxidant found in green tea.

Prevent Heart Disease

Drinking iced tea might help prevent heart disease in several ways. MedlinePlus notes that drinking black tea can help prevent hardening of the arteries, as well as lower the risk of a heart attack. Black tea may also increase your chances of surviving a heart attack. These heart benefits may come from the anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants in tea. In a study published in the 2012 issue of "Food & Function," researchers note that black and green tea can help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by 10 percent to 20 percent.

Boost Mental Alertness

Unsweetened ice tea contains caffeine, which can boost your mental performance. It can help keep you alert during the day and perform tasks more efficiently, even if you are not well rested, notes MedlinePlus. The mild stimulating effect can improve your ability to process information, such as learning and memorizing. Tea can contain up to 50 milligrams of caffeine in a cup. Between 40 to 400 milligrams of caffeine is considered moderate and can improve mental alertness.