Making tea your beverage of choice may help you improve your health.
Approximately half of all Americans drink tea each day, a habit which may help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer and obesity, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Depending on the type of tea you choose and the amount you drink, it may also help you lower your cholesterol levels.
Since green tea isn't as processed as black tea, it contains higher levels of antioxidants and tends to have more health benefits. A study published in August 2011 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that drinking green tea may help lower both your triglyceride and low-density lipoprotein, or bad cholesterol, but it doesn't appear to affect your high-density lipoprotein, or good cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis published in "The Journal of the American Dietetic Association" in June 2010 found that consuming green tea catechins for three to 24 weeks in amounts ranging from 145 to 3,000 milligrams per day had beneficial effects on both total and LDL cholesterol. Drinking between 3 and 5 cups of green tea will provide you with at least 250 milligrams of catechins, according to Drugs.com.
Although not all studies have found black tea to have the same effects, drinking black tea may help improve your cholesterol levels. A study published in "Food Science and Technology Research" in 2011 found that consuming polyphenols, thearubigins, theaflavins or theasinensin A from black tea helped lower cholesterol levels in rats. These results seem to translate to people as well. Drinking about 2.5 cups per day of black tea for 12 weeks helped participants in a study published in "Preventative Medicine" in May 2012 lower their triglycerides and LDL-to-HDL ratio, potentially lowering their heart disease risk.
Pu-erh tea, a particular type of fermented black tea, may have more benefits than other types of black tea. Like regular black tea, this type of tea lowered total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in a study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in 2011. However, another study, published in "Food and Function" in February 2012, found that the effects of pu-ehr tea on cholesterol were about the same as those of green tea and greater than those of regular black tea.
Tea alone isn't going to have a huge effect on your cholesterol levels, and if you drink too much caffeinated tea it could cause you to have trouble sleeping. To lower your cholesterol, exercise more, maintain a healthy weight and consume less saturated fat, trans fat and dietary cholesterol, recommends the National Cholesterol Education Program. If these changes aren't sufficient, you may need to take a cholesterol-lowering medication to get your numbers into the healthy range.