I've struggled with my weight for years, and while I know that limiting portions and exercising is most important, I'd certainly welcome a little extra help. Plus, who wouldn't want to lower their risk of dreaded conditions like heart disease and cancer? I decided to drink at least one cup of green tea every day for a month to see if I'd notice any difference in my health. Here's what happened over the course of 30 days.
I learned how to make great iced tea.
When most people think of drinking tea, they might imagine sitting in a cozy chair and sipping a hot beverage. While that sounds great and relaxing, I'm a busy mom of a toddler, and I don't get to do a lot of sitting still. So rather than risk burning myself while rushing around, I opted to make large batches of iced tea that I stored in the refrigerator. (Avoid the temptation to buy the pre-bottled stuff.)
Plain green tea can be kind of bitter, but there's an easy fix: You can buy flavored green tea, or you can flavor it yourself. I had a lot of fun experimenting on my own. I'd brew a large pot of green tea and add honey, lemon, vanilla, cinnamon, or berries, all of which majorly improved the taste (and have health benefits of their own) without adding a lot of calories. My favorite combination was green tea infused with cinnamon, berries, and a little honey. Yum.
I consumed much less aspartame.
My drink of choice is normally water, but when I do crave something with a bit more flavor I usually reach for sugar-free iced tea—but by sugar-free, I really mean artificially sweetened with aspartame. As someone who chooses not to eat many artificial or processed foods, I never feel good about putting aspartame into my body, but I've never really enjoyed drinking unsweetened iced tea. Once I figured out how to flavor my iced green tea without adding a lot of sweeteners, it became my go-to beverage whenever I was craving something other than water.
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I didn't catch a cold.
I started drinking green tea in mid-September, just as the change of seasons was bringing a wave of colds and other viruses to my home in New England. Three weeks into my experiment, my daughter and husband both came down with a terrible cold and sore throat. My toddler was the sickest she had ever been, and even ended up in the hospital with dehydration. Yet somehow I managed not to get sick. Was it the antioxidant power of green tea? I'd like to think so; I drank a few extra cups that week.
Related: Exactly What To Eat When You Have A Cold Or Flu
I paid more attention to my overall health.
Although I had only committed to drinking one glass of green tea a day, that tiny resolution kept me thinking more about my health in general. With wellness top of mind, it was easier to make other healthy choices (including dietary ones) throughout the day.
I learned how to unwind without wine.
On weekend nights, when my daughter is in bed and my husband and I are still up chatting, I used to pour myself a glass of wine. Once I started the tea experiment, I swapped the wine for a hot cup of tea—and I realized how relaxing it is to sit down with a steamy beverage at the end of the day. Once I understood the stress-relieving perks of hot tea first-hand, I could no longer justify the calories in the wine (or the headache it would give me the next day).
Related: 6 Sneaky Signs You Drink Too Much
I lost a little weight, but I'm not sure it was the green tea.
During the month I was drinking green tea I did shed a few pounds, but I didn't lose any more than I had been every month since I started eating healthier and exercising consistently. Sadly, I wouldn't count on green tea for a fat-burning boost.
Still, I can say without a doubt that drinking green tea has benefits: It helped me ditch artificial sweeteners and wine, and it generally kept me in a healthy mindset. And while my month-long experiment is now up, I'm sure I'll still pour myself a cup whenever I'm craving a flavorful drink because it tastes so good. My toddler—who likes to copy everything her mom does—even drinks a little on occasion, though I won't let her have much because it does have some caffeine.
Is green tea a magical potion that solves all health woes? Absolutely not. But I do think it can be one piece of the puzzle of living a healthy lifestyle.
This article was originally published by our partners at Prevention.