Monday, February 6, 2012

Superfoods Challenge: Week 5

Wow, where has the time gone? It's already Week 5 of the Superfoods Challenge, and if you've been faithfully adding one Superfood each week, your body is already thanking you for all the wonderful nutrition you've been giving it! So far, we have added:

Broccoli (Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnips, cauliflower, collards, bok choy, mustard greens, Swiss chard): 1/2 to 1 cup per day
Wild Salmon (Alaskan halibut, canned albacore tuna, sardines, herring, trout, sea bass, oysters, clams): 2 to 4 times per week
Yogurt (kefir): Two 8 ounce servings per day
Walnuts (almonds, pistachios, sesame seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews): five 1-ounce servings per week

This week, we are adding something rather simple, yet very powerful: tea. This Superfood has no sidekicks, but includes both black and green tea, regular or decaffeinated. The Superfoods book does not mention white tea, but I am going to throw that in there because it has very similar health benefits to green tea, yet has a milder taste that many people enjoy.

The health benefits of tea are simply astounding. Tea increases metabolic rate, is antibiotic, anti-cancer, immune-boosting, stress reducing, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and show benefits in reducing risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lowering cholesterol! Studies are ongoing, but the fantastic health benefits of this Superfood make it very much worth including in your daily diet. You can read even more about the benefits of various kinds of tea here, on WHF. I personally started drinking green tea after my mother died of ovarian cancer; research shows up to a 77% reduced risk of ovarian cancer from drinking green tea daily.

If you think green tea tastes bitter or tastes like grass, like I did, think again! Some brands or types of green tea do taste more strongly than others, but preparation makes a huge difference too. Don't use boiling water to make your tea; instead, let the water come to a boil and then wait a minute or two for it to cool a bit. Pour the water over your tea bag and steep for just 2 minutes. If you steep your tea too long it will become bitter. Use a spoon to fish out the bag and then squeeze it into the tea (getting more healthy antioxidants into your cup). Drink it plain, or add a drop or two of lemon or your sweetener of choice. I used to "need" sweetener in my tea; if you do, too, I challenge you to measure your sweetener and gradually cut back over days or weeks until you can drink your tea plain. I now love the flavor of plain tea. I never thought I would.

You can drink your tea hot or cold; I have made it a habit to brew a cup of green tea while I make my lunch, and then pour it over a large cup of ice. I really enjoy my iced green tea each day. Having it watered down like this also makes it easier to drink if you aren't find of the flavor of green tea, but doesn't water down the health benefits at all! My very favorite brand of green tea that I drink 90% of the time is Bigelow Green Tea with Lemon, which I get at Walmart or Kroger. It also comes in decaf. There are lots of different flavored teas that have no calories in black, white, and green varieties. The SuperFoods Rx book recommends drinking at least 1 cup of tea per day.

Another way to get your green tea fix each day is to use matcha powder, which is powdered green tea leaves. Some sources claim matcha is even more beneficial than regular tea, because you are consuming the actual leaf. I like it a lot as tea, but even better added to smoothies. It has a nice fresh, non-bitter flavor. Again, brand seems to make a difference in taste; my favorite is DoMatcha. It's a bit pricey, but one jar in the fridge lasts me many months.

Some studies suggest that adding milk to your tea may decrease its benefits, while adding citrus such as a few drops of lemon juice increases absorption of antioxidants. So keep this in mind when deciding what, if anything, to add to your tea.

I hope you will find ways to incorporate tea into your daily meal plan. Sometimes, a nice hot cup of tea is a great thing to just sit and relax with. If you have a favorite type or brand of tea, please leave it in the comments section or on BlogFrog. I am always looking to try new things!


Mina said...

That's awesome about tea, because I love it! All kinds and I don't sweeten mine either. I wonder if herbal tea like chamomile, etc, also have the same health benefits?

Lyn said...


Herbal teas do not have the same health benefits as black and green teas, but they do each have their own benefits. For example, chamomile is a relaxing, soothing herb. Peppermint tea is good for digestion.

Anonymous said...

Harney and Sons tea is so full of flavor.There's black tea with cinnamon, holiday , oolong w/pomegranate and many others. The sachets are beautiful and used just like a tea bag. Check out their website. If you've only ever had the tea bags from the grocery store you'll be surprised by what the real thing tastes like.

Cynthia said...

I love green tea, mostly I drink it hot or warm, but iced can be good too, just not so much when it's below freezing outside!

I would say that if anyone hates the taste, experiment and don't give up on it! There's lots of lovely tea out there. I buy organic looseleaf from Upton Tea, and usually get two good steepings out of each serving.

Green tea does not have to be bitter or grassy tasting, if it is, try a different brand or different tea. The first green tea I ever tried was a cheap brand called Salada. It was AWFUL!

But other brands like Stash and my preferred looseleaf are far, FAR better. A world of difference, literally.

I also like herbal teas, and actually, rooibos red tea has tons of antioxidants, so that's a very nice alternate for those who just can't get into regular tea. It is really lovely tasting as well.

I don't drink chamomile tea, because I think it is a relative of either the ragweed family or some other plant family I am allergic to. But I love peppermint and ginger and blueberry teas.

I drink all my teas plain, unless I am ill, in which case a bit of lemon and honey is nice.

Mina said...

Oh, okay, thanks for the info!
Thanks for posting about the super foods. I'm a long time reader of yours, and I find your posts to be very inspiring :)

Vanessa Joy said...

When Husband and I married we coverted our basement into a tea room for a cheap and lovely wedding reception. Tea has always played a "romantic" role in our life. I too second Harney & Sons. I like the loose tea sold by my local kitchen shop. If you visit a tea room in your area they usually offer nice teas for sale.

Diandra said...

I used to drink green tea quite frequently, but I gave it up together with coffee at the beginning of the year. Don't think I have seen decaf green tea anywhere, but I will definitely reintroduce some FairTraide organic decaf coffee into my diet once more. ^^

Anonymous said...

I have found the best green tea out there:

I buy the zero calorie version which is sweetened with stevia. Such a treat!


Lindsey said...

I love green tea! Don't boil the water at all. Just let it come to an "almost boil". The Japanese call it a fish eye ,because the water begins to just waver on top before it boils. Only black tea and red tea should be boiled. I use a tea kettle and turn off the burner when it begins to hiss.

Dinahsoar said...

I love iced green favorite is jasmine...with a tiny bit of sweetener. I drink it several times a week...usually make a quart of it at a time. I steep just boiled water over 4 bags in a mason jar, let it sit about 5 minutes...much longer and it is too astringent, though if I forget about it I just add water in my glass when I drink it and it gets watered down as the ice melts too.

For night time I enjoy a cup of hot lemongrass ginger green tea--Earthfare brand, or Celestial Seasons decaf lemon jasmine which has chamomile and spearmint as well as lemongrass and jasmine. Both are very nice with a bit of honey.