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!