With its crisp, slightly astringent flavor, iced tea helps keep you cool in the warmer months while replenishing your body’s fluid levels. The Harvard School of Public Health lists tea as one of the best sources of hydration, second only to water. Opting for unsweetened iced tea means you’ll increase your intake of essential nutrients and compounds. This benefits your health as you avoid the nutritional disadvantages associated with sweetened iced tea.
Health Benefits of Unsweetened Iced Tea
Contains Zero Calories
Unsweetened iced tea is naturally calorie-free, reports Alexa L. Fishback, author of “The Daily Fix: Your Guide to Healthy Habits for Good Nutrition.” There is no added sugar in unsweetened tea, so you are not consuming empty calories, as you would if you chose to drink sweetened beverage.
Too much sugar intake has been linked to a variety of different diseases, including diabetes and cancer. Unsweetened iced tea is a healthy alternative, because it can help you lower your daily sugar intake. Fishback adds that drinking a glass of unsweetened iced tea can help you feel full without calories, a health benefit for those wanting to lose weight safely.
According to Andrew Packard, author of “The Packard Weight Health Plan,” unsweetened iced tea contains a variety of antioxidants that can help boost your overall health. Antioxidants work to keep your body performing in top form so that you can remain in good health. Drinking plenty of tea, instead of sugary drinks, will help you consume far more antioxidants to help prevent illness. Try adding a squeeze of lemon or lime or a sprig of mint to vary the flavor of your tea and boost the antioxidant power as well, suggests Packard. Greene adds that the antioxidants in unsweetened iced tea can also help improve your immune system so your entire body is able to maintain good health.
Source of Manganese
Adding unsweetened iced tea to your diet also helps you consume more manganese. Each 8-ounce serving of brewed black iced tea offers 520 micrograms of manganese, which is 35 percent of the recommended daily intake for women and 23 percent for men. Because of its manganese content, unsweetened iced tea promotes healthy wound healing, helps maintain the strength of your bones and supports your metabolism. The manganese in unsweetened iced tea also activates manganese superoxide dismutase, an enzyme that prevents tissue damage.
May Help Prevent Cancer
The flavonoids in unsweetened iced tea may help you ward off cancer by targeting free radicals and eliminating them before they cause you to get sick, notes Fred Thompson, author of “Iced Tea: 50 Recipes for Refreshing Tisanes, Infusions, Coolers, and Spiked Teas.”
Drinking plenty of iced tea without added sugar boosts your intake of flavonoids so there are more available to get rid of potentially dangerous and cancer-causing free radicals floating around in your body. Tea does not seem to target only certain cancers, either. The cancer prevention benefits that unsweetened tea offers do not appear to home in one any type of free radical but rather any that are taking up residence in your body.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Practice food safety when preparing your iced tea to avoid food-borne illness. Washington State University recommends making iced tea by steeping your tea in hot water, then adding ice to reduce its temperature, rather than making iced tea by letting it steep for hours at room temperature. This helps limit bacterial growth to fight food poisoning. Use fresh fruits to flavor your iced tea. Steep it along with sliced lemons or limes, or add a handful of raspberries or blueberries to your tea to sweeten it without using added sugar.