The benefits of drinking tea versus drinking water may surprise you as tea can quench your thirst and hydrate you. Organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that total fluid consumption can come from numerous sources. But tea may provide additional health benefits.
Both water and tea can hydrate you, and each offers different benefits.
Health Benefits: Tea vs. Water
Water is a vital nutrient for your body, but you don't necessarily have to drink plain water to take advantage of those benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 20 percent of your daily fluid needs come from food. The rest can come from other drinks, which can include teas.
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Your body needs adequate fluid to function. This is true of every part of your body, from your cells to your organs. Getting adequate fluid helps you feel energized, protects your tissues and helps lubricate your joints.
Although you can get these benefits from drinking plain water, you can also get these benefits and potentially more if you drink tea.
For example, according to Harvard Health Publishing, drinking black or green tea may improve your cardiovascular health, decrease the amount of bad cholesterol in your body and help reduce your blood pressure. However, Harvard warns that study results are somewhat mixed.
How Much Fluid Is Needed?
You may have heard that drinking eight glasses of water is ideal to keep you hydrated, but this is not necessarily the full truth. Organizations from the Mayo Clinic to the CDC recommend total fluid intake, not total water intake. This means you can get your needed fluids from water, coffee, tea and other sources.
Read more: 10 Everyday Ailments Soothed by Tea
But how much fluid do you need? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), you need between 91 and 125 fluid ounces, or 2.7 to 3.7 liters, of water. The NLM also indicates that there is no formal recommendation on how much water you need.
Your personal water needs can vary from day to day. In fact, the exact amount of water you need will change with your age, weight, how much you exercise and the environment in which you live. Other factors that can affect your fluid needs can include medical conditions or medications you take.
Caffeine and Added Sugars
The NLM recommends that you limit the amount of caffeinated beverages you consume each day, so keep in mind that some teas contain large amounts of caffeine. Five 8-ounce servings of tea contain a moderate amount of caffeine for most individuals. The NLM states that black and green teas can have caffeine doses ranging between 60 and 100 milligrams per 16 ounces, which is comparable to the amount found in 6 ounces of coffee.
If you are concerned about your caffeine intake, look for decaf tea. Decaffeinated tea health benefits are the same as those in regular tea. However, these teas have significantly less caffeine per serving. Many herbal teas are naturally caffeine-free and may offer additional health benefits beyond the fluid they contain.
Finally, consider how you prepare your tea. One advantage of drinking pure water is that it contains no extra refined sugars, fats or calories. What you add to your tea can have a negative impact on your health.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), one of the biggest sources of added sugar is from tea. The AHA suggests that added sugar can contribute to obesity and other health conditions. Instead of sugar, try a small amount of honey, which has naturally occurring sugars, or drink your tea with no sweetener. However, avoid adding artificial sweeteners as they may contribute to sugar cravings and, possibly, weight gain.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Water in the Diet"
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Caffeine in the Diet"
- American Heart Association: "Sugar 101"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Get the Facts: Drinking Water and Intake"
- Mayo Clinic: "Water: How Much Should You Drink Every Day?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Flavonoids: The Secret to Health Benefits of Drinking Black and Green Tea?"
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