With winter upon us, you may be looking towards warm drinks to stay hydrated. The best teas for runners – as well as their health benefits – are described below.
Matcha Green Tea
Green tea is highly touted for its health benefits including glucose regulation, fat oxidation, lower risk of certain cancers, decreased chance of heart disease, and lowered blood pressure. For runners, green tea has also been shown in studies to improve endurance. The best type of green tea is matcha, which is comprised of ground up green tea leaves. Consuming the tea leaves as opposed to the tea that is steeped from the leaves imparts additional health benefits. In fact, matcha green tea has up to 300% more antioxidant properties than regular green tea alone. Drink matcha before or during a run.
Guayusa tea is similar to green tea, but with many more benefits. Native to Ecuador, Guayusa is a naturally sweet and earthy tea chock full of antioxidants. For instance, one cup of Guyausa tea provides twice the polyphenols of green tea, but with 30 fewer milligrams of caffeine. This tea also contains chlorogenic and amino acids, which are important for cardiovascular and circulatory health. In the Amazon, Guayusa tea is consumed because it is thought to impart courage and mental strength among warriors. Therefore, this tea is perfect for drinking before a run, race, or hard work out, and can be purchased at most health stores.
Black tea has many of the same benefits as green tea, but with less caffeine. Unlike green tea, black tea naturally contains fluoride, which may promote bone and tooth health. Black tea also contains the amino acid L-theanine, which can impart relaxation and concentration, while also reducing cortisol levels. Finally, black tea contains alkylamine antigens that are important for immune function, which is perfect for runners prone to developing upper respiratory infections. Masala Chai, which is spiced black tea, packs even more of a health punch thanks to the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, and black pepper. For maximum benefit, skip the milk or creamer, which can inhibit the absorption of certain antioxidants. Drink Masala Chai either before or after a run.
Chamomile tea is derived from a daisy-like plant that is common to Europe (hence “German Chamomile). This herb has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, such as insomnia and anxiety. It can also be used for treating digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers. For runners, chamomile tea is a perfect post-run recovery beverage. A specific component found in the tea, bisabolol, is renowned for fighting inflammation and decreasing stress. If falling to sleep is difficult, consider drinking chamomile before bed to prevent insomnia.
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