If you drink chai tea every day, you may not realize what it’s doing to your body. But first, what even is it? Chai tea — or masala tea, as it is also called – is a combination of black tea and spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. It’s most often brewed with both milk and water. Prior to serving, it’s also sweetened. Many people prefer to drink the tea in latte form, and you can find the popular concoction in most coffee shops.
According to tea company Teatulia, this delicious drink may date back to some 5,000 years ago, “when a king in what is now India ordered a healing spiced beverage be created for use in Ayurveda, a traditional medicinal practice in which herbs and spices are used for healing.”
Although you may not order a chai latte for its medicinal purposes, the beverage still holds some healing power. According to experts and scientific research, this is what happens to your body when you drink chai tea on the regular.
If you drink chai tea every day, you may improve your digestion
Because ginger is added to chai tea, the beverage is great at staving off nausea. According to one 2014 study on pregnancy-induced nausea, 1.1 to 1.5 grams of ginger daily “significantly improved the symptoms of nausea” in pregnant women. As Healthline highlighted, that’s roughly the same amount of ginger in a cup of chai tea. Sounds like making the choice to drink chai tea every day isn’t too bad.
Studies have also shown that other chai essentials, such as cinnamon and cloves as well as cardamom and black pepper, possess antibacterial properties. These properties can prevent digestive problems resulting from bacterial infections.
“It isn’t one herb or spice in general that aids in digestion but the combination of many acting together,” Pacific College of Health and Science explained. In addition, boiling these ingredients into tea stews together unique flavors. “Digestion begins with the mouth, and while sometimes we equate bad tastes and smells with beneficial attributes, such is not the case with chai,” the college continued. “It represents a harmonious blend of all five tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, salt, and spice) recognized by the taste buds that is also pleasing to the other senses.”
Your heart may benefit if you drink chai tea every day
If you want to improve your heart health, choosing to drink chai tea every day may do just that. A study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2007 found that consuming three cups of black tea — the main ingredient in chai — per day reduced the risk of developing coronary heart disease. A later study conducted by researchers in the Netherlands, Germany, and the U.K. also found that regular consumption of black tea was capable of reducing blood pressure. “Although the effect is small,” the study noted, “such effects could be important for cardiovascular health at population level.”
It’s not just the black tea in chai that can improve your heart health though. Cinnamon, one of the more prevalent spices in chai, has also been found to lower blood pressure, triglycerides, and LDL (aka “bad”) cholesterol. Thanks to the serendipitous combo of black tea and cinnamon, which has quite a few unexpected health benefits, chai is essentially a superfood — at least when it comes to heart health.
If you drink chai tea every day, your teeth may benefit in a number of ways
When making chai tea at home, don’t skip the cloves. These dried flower buds have many medicinal benefits, as noted by Medical News Today, but one of the coolest ones has to be their anesthetic properties. One study found that cloves, when made into a gel, possess the “potential to replace benzocaine as a topical agent before needle insertion.” In addition to inducing insensitivity to pain, cloves have also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Of course, that’s not to say choosing to drink chai tea every day will numb all your aches and pains or cure your inflammation, but, thanks to its concentration of cloves, you may notice reduced teeth sensitivity when drinking chai daily. According to Medical News Today, cloves have also shown promise in lessening bacteria and plaque buildup. Chai tea may not be a cure-all, but everyday consumption may just mean better oral health and possibly fewer trips to the dentist — and who wouldn’t love that?
If you drink chai tea every day, you may stabilize your blood sugar
Finding a way to work cinnamon and ginger into your daily diet can sound complicated, but a cup of chai will do the trick. Why should you incorporate these two spices into your meal plan? For the health benefits — duh.
One study revealed cinnamon’s potential ability to reduce blood glucose in both patients with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Another study found that ginger helped lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. However, Healthline noted that most studies recommend consuming one to six grams of each spice per day, which is more than you’ll get in a teabag.
“To get the most benefits, try preparing the tea yourself from scratch. That way, you can add slightly more cinnamon and ginger than most recipes call for,” the publication revealed. “It’s also important to note that, unlike home-brewed chai tea, varieties prepared in cafés are often heavily sweetened, which would likely negate the blood-sugar-lowering benefits of the other ingredients in chai tea.”
You may balance your hormones and even change how your DNA is expressed if you drink chai tea every day
It may sound impossible, but if you drink chai tea every, you may actually “change how DNA is expressed,” as reported by Time. According to a study published in Human Molecular Genetics, women who drank tea experienced epigenetic changes in 28 different regions. Per the study, “these regions contained genes known to interact with estradiol [estrogen] metabolism and cancer.”
This means drinking tea, including chai, can potentially lower and balance out estrogen levels, decrease inflammation, and even suppress tumor progression, Weronica Ek, the study’s lead author and researcher in the department of immunology, genetics, and pathology at Uppsala University in Sweden, told Time.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should give up your coffee and switch exclusively to chai or even another type of tea. “I would recommend people drink the beverage that they enjoy,” she told the publication. That is, at least until more studies are conducted.
When you drink chai tea every day, you could protect yourself against degenerative diseases
“All of the spices in chai have been independently shown to inhibit or suppress inflammation as well as tumorigenesis,” Tina Kaczor, licensed naturopathic doctor and board-certified naturopathic oncologist, explained in an article for Natural Medicine Journal. “At a molecular level, the crux of many chronic degenerative diseases, including tumorigenesis, is the inflammatory process,” she continued. As such, deciding to drink chai tea every day and committing to that may prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Drinking chai, especially if you love the taste, is one of the easiest things you can do to protect against such diseases. “Chai, a simple combination of cinnamon, cardamom, clove, ginger, and black pepper represents an easily integrated means of including many spices that have evidence of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antitumor effects,” the professional explained. “The pleasant taste and easy access to these spices add to the practical application of this simple tea.”
If you drink chai tea every day, you may help prevent cancer
Chai tea just wouldn’t taste the same without cardamom. And, as it happens, it also wouldn’t be as good at staving off cancer. As Healthline highlighted, studies in mice have shown that cardamom increases the activity of enzymes that help fight cancer. Although most studies on cardamom have been performed on mice, one study did find that cardamom was able to stop human oral cancer cells from multiplying in test tubes.
“Cardamom contains natural phytochemicals that may be able to fight diseases such as cancer,” Medical News Today reported. “It cannot take the place of cancer treatment, but some studies suggest that the spice could have cancer-fighting properties.”
Now, that doesn’t mean you can add an extra scoop of cardamom to your chai tea latte and not have to worry about ever getting cancer. “Even though the results are promising,” Healthline cautioned, “these studies have only been conducted on mice or in test tubes. Human research is needed before stronger claims can be made.”
You may be able to curb indigestion and prevent stomach ulcers if you drink chai tea every day
Ginger has been found to ease nausea in pregnant women, but what if you’re nauseated due to a stomach ulcer? You can still find relief from chai tea — not from the ginger in the drink, but from the cardamom.
A study in rats with aspirin-induced gastric ulcers found that cardamom was able to help. Rats who ate cardamom extract experienced both smaller and fewer ulcers than the rats who did not consume cardamom. A similar study also found that cardamom, along with turmeric and sembung leaf, helped protect rats against getting stomach ulcers in the first place.
Even if you don’t have a stomach ulcer, you may be plagued with indigestion. Thankfully, cardamom can also ease heartburn, David Grotto, registered dietitian and author of 101 Optimal Life Foods: Alleviate Stress, Ease Muscle Pain, Boost Short-Term Memory, and Eat Your Way to Great Health… One Delicious Bite at a Time, confirmed to Everyday Health.
If you drink chai tea every day, you could lose weight
If you’re concerned that adding a cup of chai tea to your diet will cause you to gain weight, you needn’t worry. In fact, chai tea may actually help you lose weight. Because chai is usually made with milk, you’re getting a dose of protein when you drink it. “Thus, chai tea is likely to be more effective than other types of tea at reducing hunger and preventing you from overeating later in the day,” Healthline explained. “You may even find it useful as a snack.” A study in 2014 also revealed that consuming black tea, which is used in chai, regularly over three months had the power to “improve body weight and body fat distribution.”
That said, you shouldn’t expect to lose weight if you drink chai tea every day with heaps of sugar. “It’s best to stick to unsweetened, homemade varieties,” Healthline outlined.
When you drink chai tea every day, you might boost your mood and your sex drive
When you’re stressed out, nothing may sound better than a hot cup of tea. If stress is a daily occurrence, though, you may want to consider replacing your usual nightly brew with chai tea — and don’t forget to add nutmeg! A study conducted by researchers in India found that nutmeg seed extract induced an “antidepressant-like effect” on mice. Interestingly, the nutmeg extract was able to zen the mice, but it didn’t have any kind of negative impact or “significant effect” on the animals’ movement.
In addition to potentially boosting your mood, the nutmeg — and cloves — in your cuppa may also boost your libido. One study in rats revealed that the spices “were found to stimulate the mounting behaviour of male mice, and also to significantly increase their mating performance.” So, uh, there’s that.
Naturally, what happens in mice may not be the same as what happens in humans. However, if you’re looking for a way to unwind, it couldn’t hurt to brew a pot of chai tea every day, now could it?
You could strengthen your bones if you drink chai tea every day
Can committing to drink chai tea every day really strengthen your bones? Studies say it can. Research conducted by the University of Cambridge School of Medicine in the United Kingdom compared the relation between bone mineral density and tea-drinking in older women in Britain. In the end, the study revealed that older women who drank tea had “higher [bone mineral density] measurements than did those who did not drink tea.”
The science isn’t exactly clear as to why this happens, but it could be that the flavonoids in tea positively impact bone density. Whatever the reason, the researchers concluded, “Tea drinking may protect against osteoporosis in older women.”
Since milk is also often added to chai tea, you’ll be able to strengthen your bones even more than if you just drank black tea. After all, consuming dairy has been found to decrease bone loss as well as improve bone density. Additionally, if you replace your morning coffee and afternoon soda with chai tea, you can further protect against bone loss, as both beverages negatively impact women’s bones.
If you drink chai tea every day, you may improve your overall health
When you consider all of the health benefits of the different components in chai tea, you can see why ancient people considered it a medicinal elixir. “The herbs in chai tea are strong herbs — it’s more than a tea, it’s like a traditional medicinal formula,” Neka Pasquale, herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, and founder of the plant-based food company Urban Remedy, told Well+Good. “The ingredients in chai are very warming, which makes it a perfect winter tonic.”
Part of what makes chai tea the bee’s knees — at least when it comes to wellness beverages — really comes down to the ways the ingredients compliment each other. “I would look at the recipe of a good chai tea like a good Chinese medicine formula — the ingredients work together synergistically,” Pasquale explained. “If you had one herb supporting the digestion it would be great, but all of them together have a much stronger effect.”
Choosing to drink chai tea every day can benefit many parts of your body, which means it may just improve your overall health.
You could experience some unpleasant side effects if you drink chai tea every day
Chai tea may have a lot of health benefits, but that’s not to say there are no risks associated with habitual chai tea-drinking. It’s important to remember that chai is still tea, which means it’s caffeinated. If you consume too much caffeine, you’ll have an increased risk of numerous health conditions, including insomnia, anxiety, fatigue, and potentially even rhabdomyolysis, an extremely serious condition that leads to kidney failure. For those curious, here are signs you’re consuming too much caffeine and what will happen to your body when you give caffeine up.
It’s not just the black tea you have to worry about, though. “Due to chai tea’s ginger content, individuals prone to low blood pressure or low blood sugar, or who are taking blood-thinning medication, may want to limit their intake or keep it in the lower end of the range,” Healthline revealed.
The other spices in chai tea also have their own lists of precautions of which to be aware. Nutmeg, for example, can cause hallucinations if it’s consumed in excess. Cinnamon, on the other hand, can lead to developing liver damage, mouth sores, and low blood sugar. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t drink chai tea every day, but you should know the risks of drinking too much of the beverage.
The decision to drink chai tea every day is not for everyone
Chai tea isn’t the best choice for menopausal women. “When you look at people constitutionally, some people already have way too much heat in their bodies — they might have really bad heartburn or feel hot, like people with a fever or women going through menopause,” Neka Pasquale, herbalist, licensed acupuncturist, and founder of the plant-based food company Urban Remedy, told Well+Good. “You don’t want to heat them up too much, because it aggravates the heat already in their body.” For such folks, Pasquele recommends green tea, which also tastes great chilled.
Chai tea made with cow’s milk, as it is traditionally served, is also not the best bet for people with lactose intolerance, as it can cause nausea, stomach cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Of course, you don’t have to drink chai tea with cow’s milk. If you still want to experience the benefits from the spices and tea without any of the side effects of lactose intolerance, you should “opt for chai teas made from plant-based milks or only water,” according to Healthline.
Although deciding to drink chai tea every day is not the right fit for everyone, the pros outweigh the cons for most people.
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