Ahhhhh, the pumpkin spice latte (PSL) is the classic drink of the fall season. It hits coffee shop menus well before the official start of fall and tends to stay until the holidays are over. People love it, despite the high sugar and calorie content. It is an indulgent seasonal beverage, but dietitians aren’t necessarily the biggest fans of it. They are, however, a fan of an underrated drink that is available year round. The best part? It still provides that heartwarming fall goodness!
What Is Chai Tea?
Chai tea has roots in Indian cuisine and is a cultural staple. Referred to as masala chai, chai tea is a black tea mixed with various spices, including cloves, black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper. The tea always comes with milk and masala, and is never referred to as plain black tea. You can enjoy chai tea in the morning with breakfast, but it is a common afternoon drink as well.
The traditional preparation is with loose-leaf black tea, water milk, grated fresh ginger, fresh mint leaves, and spices. The recipe may change depending on where you are in India. Chai tea offers a rich flavor that is both sweet and aromatic from all the spices. Because it contains all of those wonderful spices, chai tea has some impressive health benefits. That is exactly why dietitians encourage you to drink it during the fall. Continue reading to learn about the benefits of chai tea.
It Helps Relieve Nausea
Ginger, cinnamon, and black pepper all work to aid the digestive process. According to studies, eating ginger can help relieve gas, bloating, and constipation because it reduces fermentation in the gut. Additionally, cardamom and cloves exhibit potent antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal activity. Drinking chai tea regularly may help improve both digestion and immune function. Just make sure you don’t overload your chai tea with sugar.
It May Help Maintain Oral Health
Historically, many cultures used cloves to maintain optimal oral health. It is a sweet-tasting spice that is incorporated into many types of herbal mouthwashes and rinses. Herbal mouth rinses that contain tea tree, basil, and clove oils were very beneficial in preventing bacteria that cause plaque and gingivitis, according to a 2014 study.
It May Benefit Heart Health
Cinnamon packs a serious nutritional punch, and is especially beneficial for the heart! Not only has it been associated with reducing total and bad cholesterol, but it may also reduce blood pressure and support the heart. More research is still necessary to determine the exact association of cinnamon and heart health, though. A 2013 study found that taking a cinnamon supplement was associated with lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure in people with type 2 diabetes. A 2021 study found that cinnamon was able lower systolic blood pressure, but only a moderate amount. It also helped to improve participants’ cholesterol levels.
It Promotes Healthy Blood Sugar Levels
Many of the spices, especially cinnamon, in chai tea may help to lower blood sugar levels. A 2011 review found that whole cinnamon and cinnamon extract significantly lowered fasting blood glucose in people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes. Another small study monitored people with type 2 diabetes who took cinnamon supplements as a part of their treatment. After three months, their A1C levels and fasting blood glucose levels were much lower than they were at the beginning of the study, especially compared to the placebo group. Other studies suggest that cardamom can help regulate blood sugar and reduce inflammation. It may even reduce A1C, triglyceride, and insulin levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
It Helps Boost Energy Levels
Chai is a black tea, which contains caffeine. In fact, one cup of chai tea has about 25 to 30 milligrams of caffeine. In comparison, a cup of coffee can contains anywhere from 100 to 120 milligrams of caffeine. Chai tea contains way less caffeine than coffee, making it a great option for those who are sensitive to caffeine’s effects. That said, you still get a little caffeine hit! Plus, the spices in chai tea come with a series of antioxidant compounds that can help combat inflammation.